The Falkland Islands government has made further announcements regarding the South Atlantic Airbridge, which has been rerouted because of the temporary closure of Ascension Island runway, but now seems to be back in track to normalizing via alternative airports in West Africa. Ascenson island, in mid Atlantic, is a crucial call point for the long airbridge to the Falklands.
Despite the cancelling of a couple of airbridge flights to the Falklands, as of Wednesday, and for the rest of the week, the situation is expected to be normal, according to FIG and the UK Ministry of Defense, which are providing extensive information both for northbound and southbound flights.
Since the flights will be calling in West Africa, there are some recommendations regarding vaccines.
Following are some of the questions, and answers, regarding the overall rerouting situation.
What is the situation regarding the Ascension Island and Airbridge flights?
Due to essential repairs required to the Ascension Island runway, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is temporarily rerouting the South Atlantic Airbridge via alternative airports, currently using West Africa.
How long will this situation continue?
The runway requires essential repairs to continue accommodating larger aircraft, such as those used for the South Atlantic Airbridge. It is expected that the re-routing will continue for the foreseeable future.
What will happen in the interim period?
The MOD is working with the Falkland Islands Government to ensure continued flight access to/from the UK for Falkland Islanders, through an alternative hub.
What is happening with the current South Atlantic Airbridge flights?
Whist interim measures are being implemented, the Southbound flight from Brize Norton (BZN) scheduled for 16.04.17 has been cancelled along with the associated return Northbound flight scheduled for 18.04.17*.
However, the Southbound flight from Brize Norton scheduled to depart on Wednesday 19.04.17* is due to arrive at Mount Pleasant on Thursday 20.04.17* at 15:05 hrs*, Stanley time.
The Northbound flight scheduled for Friday 21.04.17* is due to depart at 07:15hrs*, Stanley time (check-in from 02:00hrs*). This flight is scheduled to arrive at Brize Norton at 05:30hrs* on Saturday 22.04.17*. (*) All dates and times correct as of 17.04.17 and subject to change.
Every attempt is being made to accommodate passengers from the cancelled flights. As always, passengers are advised to carry overnight kit in their hand luggage in case of any delays.
Does the rerouted flight take longer to the UK?
The initial leg of the journey from the Falklands (Mount Pleasant) northbound, if via West Africa, is longer than the leg to Ascension, but the onward leg to the UK is shorter. Overall, there is very little difference in overall flight time.
What is the situation for people who live or work on Ascension Island?
The MOD is working with the Foreign Office to put in place measures to support the people who live and work on Ascension Island.
How do I find out more information about Northbound flights?
Updated Northbound flight information from Mount Pleasant is available via the flight information line, MPC Extension 4747, or external (+500) 74747. In the Falkland Islands, the FIC Flights and Insurance department is now located at Crozier Place, Stanley; +500 27633 or email email@example.com .
How do I find out more information about Southbound flights?
For updated Southbound information, the Brize Norton (BZN) website can be found here : http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafbrizenorton/passengers/pi_bzzfltdepart.cfm
We advise telephoning the passenger information line (+44) (0)1993 895861 for more up to date Southbound travel information than on the website.
Are there any different requirements for flights that are via West Africa?
There is a very low risk of yellow fever, malaria and Zika virus when transiting via West Africa, however this will be minimised by requiring passengers to stay aboard the aircraft during the stop-over. Passengers may wish to take additional precautions, including the use of DEET–based insect repellent and wearing clothing covering the arms and legs.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that if you have been vaccinated against yellow fever you will be immune for life; this includes Islanders who were routinely required to hold such a yellow fever certificate to fly in the past.
Those who have been vaccinated should keep their certificate of vaccination with them. Those who have not been vaccinated will be asked to sign a waiver acknowledging the slight risk to their health and stating that they are happy to continue with their journey.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) strongly advises any person arriving in the UK who is not already vaccinated to go to a travel vaccine clinic and get their yellow fever vaccination.
The King Edward Memorial Hospital in Stanley (KEMH) is working with the MOD to ensure that there is adequate stock of yellow fever vaccinations and adequate insect repellent, for future travel, over the coming weeks. When stocks have been replenished, the KEMH will make an announcement.
Any Falkland Islanders registered with KEMH, wishing to check their yellow fever vaccination status, or obtain a new certificate, can contact the KEMH.