St Helena is a unique destination – it is located in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, and until recently the only means of transport to the island was a five day ship voyage. St Helena is considered a ‘bucket list’ destination for tourists with an exceptional history and geographical features, striking vistas, distinctive destinations and a warm ‘Saints’ culture.
The uniqueness of St Helena also poses a number of challenges in operating a scheduled air schedule between Johannesburg and the island. Being in the middle of the ocean the island is prone to inclement weather conditions from strong winds, rain, low cloud and fog. With passenger safety always at the forefront, Airlink applies strict compliance to all the regulations governing the operation of an extended scheduled air service to an isolated location.
These regulations, including but not limited to “Extended Diversion Twin Operations” and “Isolated Aerodromes” specify certain minimum weather requirements which have to be met before the flight can depart. From time to time compliance to these regulations will result in a flight to St Helena being delayed.
Delays create an inconvenience especially for passengers, but also for Airlink, the airport and all support services. The St Helena Airport and Airlink continue to research, identify, examine and evaluate weather, airport and aircraft technologies that could be deployed to minimize delays.
Will Airlink contact me if the flight will not depart on the scheduled day of departure?
Where Airlink has received the adverse weather forecast the day prior to departure and the forecast shows no improvement in the weather for the day of departure, and the decision has been taken to delay the flight to the following day, Airlink will endeavour to contact the passengers prior to the arrival at the airport, provided the passenger contact details reflect in the booking. Airlink may not be able to contact connecting passengers in time to provide advanced warning as they may already be at the airport.
If I have checked-in, or I have boarded the flight, is there a possibility that the flight may be delayed due to weather?
The weather at St Helena is unpredictable especially so given that the airport is built on high ground surrounded by higher terrain and is prone to adiabatic or upslope fog. Airlink works closely with the St Helena Meteorological office and monitors the weather patterns and forecasts long in advance of the departure date up to the day prior to departure. On the day of departure Airlink receives the most up to date weather forecast 2 hours prior to departure, and thereafter an updated forecast every 30 minutes. As long as the forecast weather is favourable and meets the regulated minimum criteria, the flight will depart. However, in the event that adverse weather is expected per the forecast, or if an earlier favourable forecast changes and becomes unfavourable prior to the departure, the flight may be delayed for up to 3 hours, pending an improvement to the forecast weather conditions. In the event of the forecast showing a deterioration in the meteorological conditions without any prospect of improvement, the flight will be postponed to operate the following day or to a later date depending on the weather forecast.
What happens to my onward connecting flight?
Airlink will not assume any liability for connecting flights that the customer may miss as a result of a weather delay. Airlink will however assist with the rebooking of a connecting flight when a customer holds a single ticket containing multiple carriers on a multi-sector interline itinerary, Any and all costs resulting from such a rebooking process will be for the customer’s account. In all other instances customers are required to contact their booking agent for amendments on their connecting flights.
Is a passenger entitled to financial compensation as a result of inclement weather?
Airlink will not offer financial compensation to passengers for weather related delays and cancellations. Passengers are encouraged to take out the appropriate travel insurance when travelling. Airlink will gladly provide any documentation the passenger may require to submit a claim to their travel insurance.
Does a passenger receive any form of compensation as a result of a weather delay?
Yes, where the flight is delayed exceeding 2 hours, Airlink will provide free refreshment (excluding alcohol) or food vouchers to be used in airport catering outlets.
If a flight has been postponed due to weather to operate on the following day, is a passenger entitled to complimentary accommodation?
Yes, Airlink has made an exception to our standard Conditions of Carriage specifically for scheduled flights to and from St Helena that accommodation will be provided in Johannesburg within close proximity to the airport where Airlink has an arrangement for hotel accommodation, this will include the appropriate meals supplied by the hotel. The same arrangement will apply to passengers departing from St Helena.
Can I get a refund on my ticket, if I no longer wish to travel?
Yes. A refund is given on the Johannesburg - St Helena - Johannesburg sectors of the journey that have not been used, less a reasonable administration charge as applicable at the time of the refund request. Refunds will be processed by the applicable booking agent. You will be required to contact your booking agent to assist with the refund process. Airlink will waiver the cancellation fees in the event of a weather delay.
Do I require a visa for South Africa if I am through connecting?
While a visa for entering South Africa is not absolutely necessary, Airlink strongly recommends that customers arriving in South Africa off an international flight be in possession of a visa to enter South Africa, in case the flight is delayed due to weather and passengers are required to overnight. Please note that should an overnight be required as a result of a weather related delay or cancellation, Airlink will provide hotel accommodation outside the Airport Terminal. Customers who are not in possession of a visa will be required to remain in transit and will not be allowed to leave the Airport Terminal, and therefore Airlink will not be able to accommodate them.
How do I get the appropriate documents to claim from my travel insurance?