Flights to Ascension Island, the key midway point in the Falklands Air Bridge, were suspended following reported issues with the airport’s runway.

Easter Sunday’s flight was cancelled due to “operational reasons” according to a statement on the RAF website, this is believed to be the deteriorating condition of the runway which is now unable to handle the large A330 aircraft that regularly service the route from RAF Brize Norton to RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falklands.

Future flights are currently on hold and the government is taking steps to limit the non-essential population on the island to reduce demand on food and other supplies until regular services can resume.

The construction of an airport for the nearby island of St Helena has been completed, with the aerodrome recently recertifying for its Air Traffic Services and Aerodrome Certificate accreditation. Issues with wind-shear have however delayed the commencement of any regular services pending further test flights. It is therefore doubtful that it will a suitable short term alternative.

Adding to these problems the aging RMS St Helena supply ship has only just returned to service following ongoing maintenance issues and a spell in drydock in Simon’s Town. It should arrive in Ascension next Sunday. Along with the air bridge, this ship is a vital lifeline for the islands of Ascension, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha, transporting not only people but food and essential medical supplies.

Flights are expected to resume next week utilising an airport in West Africa. The territorial government in Jamestown is also presently investigating options for a relief supply ship or aircraft capable of landing at St Helena.

RAF Ascension Island, also known as Wideawake Airfield, is manned by a contingent of 19 RAF personnel. As well as servicing the South Atlantic Air Bridge it is used for emergency landings by transatlantic passenger jets and was an emergency landing site for the space shuttle. During the Falklands War, it was famed for briefly becoming the busiest airport in the world in terms of aircraft movements.

Passengers for all affected territories are advised to contact their booking operators for more information.

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Geoff (@guest_371686)
4 years ago

St Helena would be fine as an interim stopover for many Aircraft. An RAF Hercules landed there recently with half the runway to spare. Embraer 190, Avro RJ 100 and a number of smaller aircraft have landed from both ends of the runway with no problem. Even the much publicized wind shear problem experienced by the 737 was significant but no worse than many other airports worldwide with the Saffer pilot landing very safely. The main problem as always is with huge Red tape and Civil servants who can’t or won’t act quickly and think laterally

dadsarmy (@guest_371702)
4 years ago
Reply to  Geoff

By a slender thread all the same.

Strange, I mentioned the role of RFA when building my Scottish Navy, and the UK itself is well short of replenishment ships in the RFA – just 3, and two of them old. Not the same as the RMS, but presumably would be able to cover for maintenance – if available. According to wiki there are also five merchant navy vessels under charter to the Ministry of Defence, no idea what they are though.

Logistics – who’d have thunk it!

dadsarmy (@guest_371703)
4 years ago
Reply to  dadsarmy

(plus Wave Knight and Wave Ruler, I ddn’t include them for some reason, possibly because I think of them as mainly oilers).

geoff (@guest_371729)
4 years ago
Reply to  dadsarmy

Morning Dadsarmy. A slender thread yes but still a very viable standby. The runway at just under 2 kms is not as long as Ascencion but would accomodate many usuable aircraft that could fill the gap to the Falklands if repairs are to take a while. A Boeing 757 was scheduled to land recently but had to be postponed due to the operators requirements elsewhere. The main holdup is not the Windshear issue but the fact that aircraft smaller than the planned 737 make the ticket price expensive- A tiny subsidy from HMG-tiny in relation to the 400 million pounds… Read more »

geoff (@guest_371730)
4 years ago
Reply to  dadsarmy

ps Dads-there is some good footage on You Tube of the various landings including the Hercules and 737 windshear landing