A feared cut to the number of RMS St Helena voyages to Ascension island appears to have been averted.
Julian Morris, head of economic development, revealed details of the ship’s proposed schedule at a meeting with the St Helena tourism association. He said: “The number of Ascension calls unchanged.”
The concern arose because of a drop in the number of seats for St Helena passengers on RAF flights in and out of Ascension.
That meant fewer passengers on the 700-mile voyage between the two islands, and less income from fares – meaning it might not be viable to keep the same number of shuttle runs.
Reducing the frequency of Ascension sailings would have made it harded for Saints on Ascension and the Falklands to get home – for instance, if a relative on St Helena fell ill.
The abrupt reduction in seat allocation in late 2011 – from 26 seats to 10 – was also partly blamed for a big drop in tourist numbers on St Helena.
Pressure has been applied from Jamestown to try to have the allocation restored.
In the meantime, a new schedule has been drawn up for the RMS, with sailings planned until early 2015 to allow tourists and others to plan further ahead than usual.
Julian Morris told the tourism association that the schedule would have been published six months earlier had the airbridge not been cut.
At the time, he said: “We don’t want to cut calls to Ascension, but if we can’t get the airbridge seats up, then we’re going to have to cut those calls.”
RMS St Helena