British charter airline Titan Airways flew an all-business class Airbus A318 from London to St. Helena on Sunday, carrying medical supplies for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Titan Airways 32 seat all-business Airbus A318-100, registration number G-EUNB, departed London Stansted Airport (STN) Sunday morning. It undertook the 4,700-mile flight to St. Helena stopping in Accra, Ghana, to refuel. According to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.com, the aircraft is carrying five ventilators, 960 COVID-19 test kits, medical staff, and 2.5 tons of supplies.
About St. Helena
Regarded as being one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, St. Helena was uninhabited when first discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. Before the Suez Canal opened in 1869, St. Helena was a necessary stopping off point for ships traveling between Europe and Asia.
The remote island is located in the South Atlantic 1,200 miles west of Angola and was until 2017 only accessible by boat. Eventually, an airport was built on the wind-swept island with the idea that tourism would be able to help the local economy.
Titan Airways is en route to St. Helena – one of the most remote islands in the world – with medical staff, 960 covid-19 test kits, 5 ventilators, and 2.5 tons of supplieshttps://t.co/Twi8aQ0RZQ pic.twitter.com/rRBjQC6ZFK
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) April 19, 2020
South African carrier Airlink started a weekly service to St. Helena in 2017. It flew from O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg via Walvis Bay Airport in Namibia using one of its Embraer E190-100IGW aircraft.
This lifeline to the rest of the world was abruptly cut on March 26, 2020, following the South African government’s response to the coronavirus crisis. This effectively cut off the British Overseas Territory from the rest of the world.
About Titan Airways
Founded in 1988, Titan Airways is a British charter airline based at London Stansted Airport that specializes in wet-lease operations ad-hoc charters and as transport for sports teams and government officials. According to aviation website Planespotters.net the airline operates a fleet of 12 aircraft comprised of the following:
- One Airbus A318-100
- Two Airbus A320-200
- Four Airbus A321-200
- One Boeing 737-300
- One Boeing 737-400
- Two Boeing 757-200
- One Boeing 767-300
The Airbus A318 operating on the flight to St Helena is currently being leased from British Airways. It used to serve on the UK flag carrier’s route from London City Airport to New York.
For a while, British Airways used to operate up to two flights a day from London City Airport (LCY) to New York John F. Kennedy Airport via Shannon Airport (SSN) in Ireland but cut back to a single flight aboard its all business A318s. Currently, this route is suspended due to the closure of the airport.
The bottom line
The British government’s decision to lease the A318 from Titan Airways for the medical supply flight to St. Helena may be because only smaller aircraft can land on the island due to runway and weather limitations.
At the moment, as far as we know, St. Helena has no known case of the coronavirus, and by sending the medical supplies, the British government is being proactive just in case the situation should change. Along with the emergency gear, we can also assume that given Airlink’s suspension of flights, the Titan flight was used to transport mail and other supplies to the isolated British outpost.