||ATLANTIC STAR AIRLINES
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Founded in 2012. Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) is a British company founded by 3 former and present British Airways (BAB) pilots (FC) who plan to create an airline specifically to serve the British Overseas Territory of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. Once the island's 1st airport, St Helena Airport opens in 2016.
The company seeks to bid for the government contract to fly to St Helena, to be subsidized by the British Department for International Development (DFID). Plans are to serve a route network that will operate from London, down to the island and on to Cape Town with a Boeing 757-200 airplane which is expected to be provided by Icelandair (ICE) subsidiary, Loftleiðir Icelandic, under a wet lease agreement. Adding another route to Johannesburg within a relatively short time frame is also being considered.
Travel companies regard direct flights to Europe as a necessity to establish St Helena as a luxury tourist destination, which is a key proposition of St Helena's economic development plan. Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) estimates it could carry up to 30,000 passengers per annum within 5 years after launch in 2016 and could make a lucrative business from importing fresh blue tuna and other fish stocks from the islands to Europe. At 30,000 passengers yearly, (ASR) expects to become sustainable, with ticket yields making up the bulk of income. A further 10% of (ASR)’s revenue could come from freight. Cargo is also seen as a significant part of the operation (potentially to aid island exports, particularly in terms of fisheries). Significant cargo capacities are expected on outbound flights to South Africa. The company said it would increase flights to 2 or 3 round-trips per week and add Johannesburg as a 3rd destination if demand increases. Once routes are matured, Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) plans to move to a more frequent service with an Airbus A319neo, which due to its smaller size, would transport roughly the same number of passengers and the same amount of cargo, but over a slightly higher frequency of services.
Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) has been incorporated as a private limited company (Ltd) in England & Wales on November 20th 2012. In June 2013, (ASR) announced that it plans to offer weekly direct flights from London to St Helena with a fuel stop most likely at Madrid–Barajas Airport, as well as a weekly flight from St Helena to Cape Town.
Media reports from August 2013 claim that the project is on a firm financial footing. According to (ASR), any airline starting on the new St Helena route would need financial support in the form of subsidies during the 1st years of operation, while passenger numbers pick up.
In May 2014, (ASR) announced that it would initially use an airplane leased from Loftleiðir Icelandic, (Icelandair (ICE) subsidiary).
Air links to west African countries, Ascension Island as well as to the Falkland Islands are under consideration, though Wideawake Airfield on Ascension is still closed for commercial air traffic while the long distance to the Falklands (>6000 km) combined with St Helena's limited runway length would dictate flights to operate with reduced payload capacity putting such service's viability into question.
Flights to London are expected to increase to 2x-weekly by the end of 2017. Madrid has been chosen as the refuelling stop, because it is a major European hub, with excellent connections for passengers from France, Germany and elsewhere, who want to fly to St Helena. The refuelling stop in Madrid will take about 45 minutes.
Due to its unique ability to operate from a short runway on a long-haul operation, Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) planned to acquire a used Boeing 757-200 with retrofitted winglets, which would be specially adapted to carry fewer passengers and more fuel for the long haul flights. On a Boeing 757-200, winglets reduce fuel consumption by an estimated -3.2%, resulting in a slightly higher range. In May 2014, (ASR) announced it would initially lease a Boeing 757 from Icelandair (ICE) subsidiary, Loftleiðir Icelandic with a 3-class cabin configuration under a wet lease agreement which could be converted into a dry lease agreement after 1 year of operation and involve additional 757s depending on demand. As of May 2014, Loftleiðir Icelandic's fleet of 4 Boeing 757s will have an average age >21 years by 2016, when flights will potentially begin.
Originally, airfield specifications for St Helena Airport did not allow for a Boeing 757 to land, but a design change agreed in October 2013 will now allow to cater for operations of a wider range of airplanes, in particular the Boeing 757-200 and other smaller Code D airplanes.
Once routes are matured, (ASR) plans to move to a more frequent service with an Airbus A319neo, which due to its smaller size would transport roughly the same number of passengers and the same amount of cargo, but over a slightly higher frequency of services.
Air links to west African countries, Ascension Island as well as to the Falkland Islands are under consideration, though Wideawake Airfield on Ascension is still closed for commercial air traffic, while the long distance to the Falklands (>6000 km) combined with St Helena's limited runway length, would dictate flights to operate with reduced payload capacity putting such service's viability into question.
Flights to London are expected to increase to 2x-weekly by the end of 2017. Madrid has been chosen as the refueling stop, because it is a major European hub, with excellent connections for passengers from France, Germany, and elsewhere, who want to fly to St Helena. The refueling stop in Madrid will take about 45 minutes.
* St Helena
* London (weekly to/from Gatwick Airport or Stansted Airport with a fuel stop preferably in Southern Europe (Madrid) or alternatively North Africa (Marakesh) or West Africa (Accra)) 
* Cape Town (weekly)
* Ascension Island (monthly)
* Johannesburg (under consideration)
March 2015: South African airline, Comair (CML) has been announced as preferred bidder for a new air service to St Helena, one of the world’s most remote inhabited outposts.
The tiny British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, which lies around 1,200 miles off the coast of Namibia and some 1,800 miles east of Brazil, is best known as the place of exile of Napoleon Bonaparte. Until now, its only regular contact with the outside world has been by a visit by mail ship from Cape Town every 2 weeks.
A £250 million/$370 million airport with a 1,950 m runway is now in the final stages of construction and is due to open in February 2016.
The tiny island (around 50 square miles in area) has a resident population of around 4,000 and is hoping that increased tourism, once the airport is open, will boost a faltering economy.
In its bid, Comair (CML) is proposing a weekly flight from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport using a Boeing 737-800. Flight time will be about 4-and-a-half hours.
Outbound passengers from St Helena will be able to connect to a range of European and Asian destinations through Johannesburg, including London, Paris, Sydney, and Hong Kong.
The St Helena government and the UK government’s Department for International Development will hold detailed discussions with Comair (CML) in coming weeks and will make a more detailed announcement on the planned service once these have concluded.
April 2015: The Saint Helena government said it has concluded negotiations for South African airline, Comair (CML) to provide an air bridge for the remote British island territory.
The (CML) service will operate as a British Airways (BAB) flight as part of its license agreement with (BAB), the UK flag carrier, flying once a week to the South Atlantic island using a Boeing 737-800 in a 2-class configuration from Johannesburg’s International Airport.
The new Saint Helena Airport is due to open in early 2016 after certification requirements have been met.
According to the Saint Helena government and the UK Department for International Development, which is funding the development of the airport, the agreement with Comair (CML) is for an initial term of 3 years from the date of the 1 flight, with the potential for up to 2 extensions of 2 years each (a maximum term of 7 years).
The opening of the airport and the start of air services will mean the island and its 4,000 inhabitants will no longer be entirely dependent on the 3-week cycle of the supply ship (RMS) St Helena, which brings in visitors, supplies and mail from Cape Town and Ascension Island.
The Boeing 737 will be restricted to 120 passengers and a limited amount of cargo because of the restricted runway length. The new airport will have a 1,850 m/6,100 ft runway, but with a declared landing distance of 1,550 m.
(CML) said it will add the island airport to its flight simulator database so that landings there can be practiced before operations begin.
Flight timings are under discussion, the Saint Helena government said, but it likely to see an early morning departure from Johannesburg. There will then be a one-hour turnaround so the airplane can return to Johannesburg and meet flight connections, particularly to Europe.
Increased frequency of flights will be considered if there is sufficient demand, government officials have stated. Consideration is also being given to the setting up of additional services to the other British island territory, Ascension Island, where many Saint Helenian’s currently work.
The new airport (which costs £201.5 million/$306 million paid by the British government) is expected to open Saint Helena up to tourism and set the island on a course to self-sustainability. Once the airport has opened, the British government plans to retire the (RMS) St Helena by June 2016.
September 2015: The 1st aircraft ever to land on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic has arrived to carry out calibration flights prior to the opening of its new airport.
A Beech King Air 200, of South Africa’s Flight Calibration Services, arrived September 15 on the rocky outcrop, whose only current link with the outside world is a mail ship that arrives every 3 weeks from South Africa. The island is a British possession.
The airport, which costs just >£200 million/$310 million, will have a 1,950 m paved runway, although declared landing distance available is just 1,550 m.
South African airline Comair (CML) will operate a weekly, Boeing 737-800 on the route from Johannesburg, with service due to start in February 2016. Passenger numbers will be restricted to 120, due to the short runway.
St Helena is 1 of the world’s most remote inhabited outposts, best known as the place where French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile in 1821.
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ASR-757-200 - 2015-03.jpg
ASR-757-200-A - 2015-03.jpg
1 757-200 (RB211-535E4), LOFTLEIDIR ICELANDIC LSD:
1 ORDER (?) A319neo:
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ASR-1-CAPTAIN RICHARD BROWN.jpg
ASR-2-CAPTAIN ANDREW RADFORD.jpg
ASR-3-CAPTAIN CARL HASLEM.jpg
CAPTAIN RICHARD BROWN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO).
Richard has 20 years of aviation experience and is passionate about establishing a sustainable and viable airline operation to the island of St Helena. He has been personally involved in the "Air Access Project" for >8 years and has put together a team of committed individuals to help build a bespoke operation.
As a Training Captain with British Airways (BAB), flying the Boeing 777 and 787 airplanes, Richard has extensive knowledge of the complexities involved in operating to some of the world's most exciting and interesting destinations. Added to this, he is dedicated to providing a world class on-board customer experience. He said he felt privileged to be part of an operation that could not only make history, but also provide the people of St Helena with a genuine opportunity to develop their island.
CAPTAIN ANDREW RADFORD, DIRECTOR COMPLIANCE & REGULATIONS.
Andrew said he had been fortunate to be involved with Richard in the development and design of Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) from the outset. It had been interesting and demanding to construct a viable airline model that meets the specific challenges and needs of a St Helena-centric operation. As the project matured, his main areas of expertise have narrowed to focus on issues of regulation and safety compliance, as well as liaison with airplane manufacturers to analyze airplane performance capabilities and establish a path to operation of a suitable airplane type.
Andrew too has been flying for British Airways (BAB) for the past 20 years, having had the pleasure of completing initial training with Richard. He is currently a captain on the Boeing 767 flying to a mixture of short haul and long haul destinations.
Andrew's impression of St Helena:
Well, what can I say? After such a fabulous visit to St Helena mid-October 2013, I really don't know where to start, or how to begin to describe our impressions of the Island and the "Saints."
Having read so much about the history and environment of this unique British territory, when the opportunity arose to visit on behalf of Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR), I couldn’t wait to get going.
I traveled with my French girlfriend Nathalie, who is not renowned for her sea legs and was tentative at the least, to embark upon a 6-day voyage on the (RMS) across the South Atlantic. However, from the moment we were welcomed aboard in sunny Cape Town harbor, she was able to dismiss her fears and settle in to what truly is a unique adventure. We enjoyed the deck games, the bar quiz and other varied entertainment, and made the most of seemingly never-ending sumptuous food. With the ship being full, we met many tourists, visitors, island employees and particularly Saints. It's easy to see how so many travelers place such a high value on the (RMS) experience, and might be a little despondent to see it come to an end.
Upon arrival and disembarkation in Jamestown's beautiful harbor, we headed to our hotel, the Wellington House, under the great care of proprietor Ivy Robinson. Ivy runs a very comfortable place and we settled in immediately. It took a while to take in the fact that we were now in one of the remotest places on earth, yet it felt so welcoming, it became easy to feel at home.
After collecting our hire car from the sea-front, (keys left inside, 'fill in the paper-work when you get a chance') we headed to the hills, and our first experience of driving the narrow winding roads. In the few hours available, we got a good feel for the layout of the road network, the location of the major sites of interest, and mastered the knack of acknowledging every single other road user with a friendly wave, whilst remaining safely on the road.
The next day for me was down to business, leaving Nathalie to explore Jamestown, whilst I attended successive meetings. These included His Excellency Governor Capes, the island's Legislative Council, senior representatives of St Helena Government, as well as the Bank of St Helena. A hectic day that culminated, via a beer or two at Denny's seafront bar, in a delicious feast at Plantation House, hosted by Governor Capes and his most charming wife, Tamara.
Thankfully, we then had the weekend free to explore, and were able to visit Sandy Bay, walk to Lot's Wife's Ponds (on the way to which we were lucky to spot a whale frolicking in the sea), climb Dana's Peak, explore High Knoll Fort, drink real St Helenian coffee at Farm Lodge, visit Blue Hill and Broad Bottom, sample local Tungi spirit, and much more else.
Monday and Tuesday were back to work, opening each day with brief slots on Saint (FM) and (SAMS) radio to introduce myself to the wider Saint community and explain briefly how we think the Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) model will best serve the needs of all Saints as well as generate the tourist traffic, vital for future prosperity. I had most productive meetings with many stakeholders, including Enterprise St Helena, the National Trust, the Post Office, Solomons, Michel the highly cultured and knowledgeable French consul, the Air Access Project team, and the Chamber of Commerce. We also undertook a comprehensive visit to the airport construction site. The Project Manager, Deon de Jaeger, kindly took the time to show us around, and explained how an area that currently bears no remote resemblance to an airport, will, in just two years, be capable of accepting the first Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) landing. Standing amongst the rubble, peering into the half-filled Dry Gut, surrounded by enormous earth movers and cranes, trying to visualize the approach path, the point of landing and the taxi route to the terminal, was an exercise in pure imagination. Yet Deon and his team know the project is on schedule, and everything will be in place before the end of 2015.
Wednesday morning was well spent on a whale and dolphin-watching boat trip around the bay. We were excited to see a hump-backed whale with her calf, and dozens of dolphins, eager to show off their jumps and spins to the transfixed audience. No trip to St Helena would be complete without a visit to Napoleon's prison at Longwood House, the Boer graves and Napoleon's tomb.
On Thursday morning, we took over the Business Center above the tourist office for an 'open house,' where absolutely anyone was welcome to come and enjoy a chat, ask questions, or just eat the biscuits. We were pleased that so many Saints and local businesspeople did drop in to ask how we felt the opening up of the island by air, would affect their way of life. We were able to re-assure that with sensible management the opportunity exists for everyone to benefit. The afternoon was spent at Argos Fisheries in Ruperts Bay, learning about the current difficulties facing local fisherman, and exploring what fish, and in what quantity, could be exported by air.
Back in Jamestown, there was one activity I had postponed as long as I could, but now there was no escaping it (climbing "Jacob’s Ladder"). 700 steep steps to the site of the old fort, and no option but just to get on with it. It was hugely rewarding to reach the top and gaze across the City and the valley below. Mind you, it was several days before my legs forgave me the arduous climb, and descent.
Unbelievably, we’d been in St Helena a week, and already, it was time to leave. We’d seen and enjoyed so much, yet knew there was plenty more we’d missed too. It seemed almost like the entire island came to bid the boat farewell, and we were surprised not just at how sad we were to leave, but how many familiar faces were there to wave us off.
I hope these few words have given you a flavor of how our time was spent on St Helena. But no words can truly convey our endearment to the island, and those who live there. From the varied scenery, the beautiful views, the history and the climate, to the delightful charm of Jamestown, and the unceasingly kind and welcoming nature of all the Saints we met, it truly is a place like no other, and somewhere we're sure other discerning travelers will want to experience the same in the future.
I'd like to pay particular thanks to Ivy for looking after us so well, to Basil George for sharing his comprehensive and insightful knowledge of the island and its history, and to all the staff on the (RMS) for their genuine warmth and hospitality.
Honestly, we can't wait to get back again. St Helena - thanks!
Andy and Nathalie.
CAPTAIN CARL HASLEM, DIRECTOR FLIGHT OPERATIONS.
Carl said he was a newcomer to the team, but he had been working closely with both Richard and Andrew for the past 2 years. His main area of focus has been working on feasibility, route selection and scheduling. Additionally he works very closely with the Finance Director on establishing costs and revenue structures. He also was involved with airplane manufacturers to ensure they had the airplane that is right for the job, not only from a performance perspective, but also from an environmental and passenger comfort point of view.
Until he started his own training consultancy, Carl flew as a Captain with British Airways (BAB), and presently works as an Airbus (EDS) training Captain, helping the next generation of budding pilots (FC) to achieve their ambitions.
DANIEL COE (FCA), FINANCE DIRECTOR.
Daniel said there are few places left on the planet without air access and it is a rare opportunity to be involved in a new business that helps unlock the long term economic growth and sustainability of St Helena. He said the Atlantic Star Airlines (ASR) team is confident that the technical and operation challenges can be met to deliver a unique air service from London that the Saints are proud of and allows new visitors to experience their island for the first time. (ASR) is working closely with all the hotel developers to produce a profitable business that meets their needs as well as those of the Saints.
Daniel is a Chartered Accountant and prior to becoming involved with (ASR), he has held a variety of senior finance roles in commerce.
CAPTAIN LLOYD CROMWELL GRIFFITHS, DIRECTOR.
Some the many interesting and varied roles that Lloyd has undertaken in his career include: Director Flight Operations and Board member of British Airways (BAB); Non Executive roles at Gulf Air (GUL), Loganair, and Comair South Africa (CML).
Since leaving British Airways (BAB), Lloyd has been running his own very sucessful consultancy.