From isolated to integrated

Surrounded by the vast South Atlantic, St Helena boasts one of the planet's most unusual airports. What did it take to connect this small island to the world by air? Andreas Spaeth paid a visit

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For more than 500 years, the island of Saint Helena – situated about 1,200 miles west of the southwest African coast – was one of the most remote permanently populated places on the planet. To reach the British Overseas Territory typically meant joining a supply vessel on a lengthy voyage from Cape Town or elsewhere in southern Africa. This all changed when the island’s hotly debated airport opened in 2016, with scheduled flights starting in October 2017.

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