The Most Useless Airport In The World?

The Most Useless Airport In The World?

We have been involved in many and varied projects over the years, but none have had quite the notoriety that St Helena Airport has!

St Helena is a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps most known for being the place where the British Government sent Napoleon Bonaparte in exile following the French Revolution. Situated 2000km from the nearest landmass, the only way to reach the island was by sea, with the RMS St Helena running (somewhat infrequently) between St Helena and Cape Town on a 5-day voyage. That is until the British Government announced plans for the construction of an airport on the island, with the aim of developing tourism, providing emergency transport and improving the island’s economy. 

The project was completed in 2015, however the airport was denied operation when on May 10th 2016, Air Safety Support International (ASSI) reported concerns regarding air turbulence and wind shear. The geographical positioning of the airport and of the island itself means that attempting to land commercial aircraft is treacherous business! The first and only large passenger jet to land there was only successful on its third attempt. The airport did eventually open, with only small aircraft allowed to operate – there are even tour operators now offering trips on these schedule small flights, so if you’re planning your next holiday… 

The project, designed and constructed by South African engineering group Basil Read (Pty) Ltd came to a total cost of £285 million, funded by the UK Department for International Development. This led to some criticism from the British media, who following its disastrous opening dubbed it “The Most Useless Airport in the World”. Not the best of marketing! However after further trials last summer, a weekly service between Johannesburg and St Helena has been passed as safe and the future is looking brighter for this not totally useless airport…

How were we involved? 

Read our case study here for more information on the details of this project.