Saint Helena 2

Saint Helena

Saint Helena has a small fishing industry, landing mostly tuna. The fishery is committed to one-by-one fishing and uses the motto “one pole, one line, one fish at a time”. Some of Saint Helena’s exported tuna has been served in restaurants in Cape Town.

Like Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, Saint Helena is permitted to issue its own postage stamps, an enterprise that provides an income. Saint Helena also issues domains under .sh.


Saint Helena 3
RMS St Helena in James Bay

Saint Helena is one of the most remote islands in the world. It has one commercial airport, and the island has become somewhat more accessible since air traffic opened in 2017.


A freight ship, M/V Helena, handles all freight to the island (some express mail is transported by air). It sails from Cape Town to Saint Helena and Ascension Island, from the beginning of 2018. It uses a wharf at Ruperts Bay which was built to assist the airport construction. It can take a few passengers.

Until 2017, the Royal Mail Ship RMS St Helena ran between Saint Helena and Cape Town on a five-day voyage, then the only scheduled connection to the island. She berthed offshore in James Bay, Saint Helena, approximately 30 times per year, and passengers and freight were transferred by small boats ashore. AW Ship Management had a package deal where passengers could travel in one direction on the St Helena and in the other by taking British Royal Air Force flights to or from RAF Ascension Island and RAF Brize Norton in Brize NortonEngland.

Saint Helena receives around 600 yachting visitors a year. During 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was advised that yachting passengers should not leave port to travel to Saint Helena, however those seeking entry on humanitarian grounds can be granted entry after a two-week quarantine in port in James Bay.


In March 2005, the British government announced plans to construct the Saint Helena Airport. On 22 July 2010, the British government agreed to help pay for the new airport. In November 2011, a deal was signed between the British government and South African civil engineering company Basil Read, and the airport was scheduled to open in February 2016 with flights to and from South Africa and the UK. The cost was £250 million. This is aimed at helping the island become more self-sufficient, encouraging economic development while reducing dependence on British government aid. It is also expected to kick-start the tourism industry, with up to 30,000 visitors expected annually.

The first aircraft landed at the new airport on 15 September 2015, a South African Beechcraft King Air 200, prior to conducting a series of flights to calibrate the airport’s radio navigation equipment. The airport’s opening was scheduled for May 2016, but it was announced in June 2016 that it had been delayed due to uncertainty about the impact of high winds and wind shear. In 2017, South African airline Airlink became the preferred bidder to provide weekly air service between the island and Johannesburg. The first commercial flight ever to land at Saint Helena was a charter flight carried out by Airlink of South Africa on Wednesday, 3 May 2017 from Cape Town via MoçâmedesAngola, using the Avro RJ85 ZS-SSH (msn 2285). The flight picked up passengers of RMS St Helena stranded on the island when St Helena suffered propeller damage.

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