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The firefall at Yosemite National Park in California is a waterfall in disguise

Every February a rare phenomenon makes Horsetail Fall glow like fire.

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | February 15, 2017 

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The firefall at Yosemite National Park in California is a waterfall in disguise.
Credit: Peggy Sells/Shutterstock

It may look like a ribbon of cascading lava, but a so-called “firefall” in Yosemite National Park is actually a regular waterfall illuminated by the bright light of the setting sun.

Almost every mid-to late-February, Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall — a seasonal waterfall that flows when the snowpack melts in the winter and early spring — glows a bright and fiery orange. [Gallery: Most Famous Waterfalls in the US]

However, the firefall happens only under the right conditions. For starters, the sky needs to be clear. In addition, the sun needs to set at the right angle in the western sky; this creates the illusion that the waterfall is burning, Live Science reported previously.

“Even some haze or minor cloudiness can greatly diminish or eliminate the effect,” the National Park Service wrote on its website.

The sight, which now attracts thousands of people annually, is one to behold. But it’s short-lived, happening for only about 10 minutes each day, Live Science reported.

Yosemite visitors hoping to catch an eyeful of the firefall are in for a treat this year, officials said.

“The waterfall is bigger than it has been in a long time due to all the rain and snow we have received,” National Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman told CNN.

Many people have taken to social media to share photos of the astounding firefall. The U.S. Department of the Interior tweeted, “Every February, a rare phenomenon makes Horsetail Fall @Yosemitenps glow like fire. Pic from Saturday by Ray Lee #California #firefall.”

Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. The firefall is best seen from the El Capitan picnic area, located west of Yosemite Valley Lodge and east of El Capitan, National Park Service officials reported.

Original article on Live Science.

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Argyle Airport SVD

St. Vincent and the Grenadines opens new multi-million dollar international airport

By Kenton X. Chance

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb 14, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Argyle International Airport was officially opened Monday evening with a flag raising ceremony in which Prime Minister Dr.  Ralph Gonsalves said that the facility is “a symbol, it is a metaphor of what is possible in us.

“Do not ever allow any people, any nation to impose on us limitations to our imagination,” he told the large crowd that turned out to the opening of the EC$700 million (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) facility, six years behind schedule.

“Only we, as a self-governing people under God, with our own individual sense of being; only we must impose limitations on ourselves. Any other notion is a colonial one, and it is debilitating and it will hold us back,” said Gonsalves, who in 2005 announced his administration’s plan to build an international airport at Argyle, on the eastern side of the island.

Gonsalves at agyle

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“Whatever we set our minds to achieve, with patience and calm, we can achieve, as we have seen it here. This is a bridge to the world. And this plan didn’t just come from us. It is a combination of human intelligence and divine inspiration,” Gonsalves said and sang the chorus “I’m building a Bridge”.

Monday’s flag raising was one of two events to mark the opening of the airport, which begins operations later on Tuesday with scheduled flights by intra-regional carriers, LIAT and Grenadine Air Alliance.

A number of international chartered flights from North America and Cuba are also scheduled to land on Tuesday at the airport, which has contributed EC$400 million to the EC$1.6 billion national debt.

The airport has a runway that is 9,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. The terminal building has been designed to process 1.5 million passengers annually and 800 persons an hour at peak.

Gonsalves, who will also address Tuesday’s ceremony, said “today was supposed to be a very simple function and look at the thousands who are here.

“ (Tuesday) I believe we are going to see the largest crowd ever assembled at one place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And we are going to have a good time. We are going to have a good time because we have been blessed,” he said.

In his address, Gonsalves reiterated that the events on Monday and Tuesday are national ones.

“This is a not a party, political event; neither the one tomorrow (Tuesday). There is enough time, which we have spent on those arguments and we may well spend them on the arguments in the future, but today, now, and tomorrow (Tuesday), with our guests in our midst, I want to ensure that we have a national event, worthy of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

“It is inevitable, in the nature of competitive politics, that this or that matter may be said; that something may creep in. But, as prime minister of the country, I want to reaffirm, yet again, that this is a national event,” Gonsalves said, using the event to thank the nations and institutions that contributed to the successful completion of the airport.

He thanked the CARICOM Development Fund, which, of its own resources and through resources from Turkey, contributed to the airport and thanked also the president and the government and the people of Taiwan, which donated the terminal building.

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Opposition Leader Goodwin Friday at Monday’s ceremonial opening

He also recognised “very specially”, three other major partners, namely Venezuela, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago, which will be featured during Tuesday’s celebratory rally.

President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro is slated to attend and speak at the event as well as Cuban Vice-President, Salvador Mesa.

Gonsalves paid a special tribute to the memory of his “dear friend and brother”, the late prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, whose widow, Hazel will speak during Tuesday’s rally.

Gonsalves also used the ceremony to recognise other representatives of countries that have assisted with the airport, namely, Austria, Mexico, Turkey, Libya, Georgia, and Iran.

“We have had contributions from countries; some of them do not have diplomatic relations with one another. And part of the creativity and skill of the government was to bring all of these countries together to assist the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Gonsalves also thanked the governments of Britain, Canada, and the United States of America, whose respective export credit guarantee systems assisted “with certain items of equipment which we purchased, but, because of the guarantee systems we got them on better interest terms”.

Opposition Leader, Godwin Friday, speaking to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) said the event had the pomp and ceremony that he expected.

“And I hope that the airport turns out to be what we expect as well.”

Friday did not give a clear answer as to whether opposition lawmakers would attend Tuesday’s event, saying “we will see. We will take it one day at a time.”

He said that decision would be informed by “what the nature of the exercise is.

“I think right now what we want to do is to show that commitment to people that this is a national project and whatever the criticisms are, we, in the opposition, we have to raise questions about things that we see in major projects or in government policy that raise concern.

“And if we do that, that doesn’t mean that we are rejecting entirely or we are unpatriotic, as some people might say. We are doing our job. When the project is completed, we hope that, based on the input we have given, that it becomes a better project.”

Friday said opposition lawmakers were at the event to show that they want the project to succeed.

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CTO’s acting director of research Ryan Skeete (left) and secretary general Hugh Riley

Caribbean tourist arrivals hit all time high

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb. 9, CMC – Caribbean tourism broke new ground in 2016, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time ever, and once again growing faster than the global average.

“Despite political, security and economic uncertainties and challenges in our main source markets, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by 4.2 per cent in 2016, better than the 3.9 per cent overall internationally,” secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Hugh Riley announced Thursday in presenting the Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2016.

CTO’s acting director of research Ryan Skeete (left) and secretary general Hugh Riley

CTO’s Ag. Dir. of Research Ryan Skeete (left) and Sec. Gen. Hugh Riley

“Encouragingly, we welcomed over one million more visitors last year than in 2015, to reach 29.3 million, continuing our proud record of continuous growth for the seventh straight year,” he told a news conference held at CTO headquarters, and streamed to a global audience.

Visitor expenditure also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5 per cent to reach  US$35.5 billion.

The United States remained the Caribbean’s primary market with an estimated 14.6 million stay-over arrivals, up 3.5 per cent on 2015.

However, it was Europe that recorded the highest rate of growth among the main source markets, led by strong increases from Germany (8.2 per cent) and the United Kingdom (4.1 per cent).

“Despite terrorist attacks in some countries, the Brexit referendum in the UK and bumpy economic outcomes across continental Europe, arrivals from that market climbed by 11.4 per cent, to reach 5.6 million. The strong European performance was evident by the healthy increases of between six and 16.8 per cent in each month, compared to the corresponding month in 2015,” Mr. Riley said.

Intra- Caribbean travel also so performed well, recording a 3.6 per cent increase – the second straight year of growth – despite costly and fragmented air service.

Canada, normally a robust market for the Caribbean, recorded a decrease for the first time since 1994, and only the second contraction since 1982. The 3.3 million arrivals from that market represented a 3.4 per cent drop when compared to 2015.

The South American market also contracted by 10.6 per cent, mainly due to political instability in two of the main sources.

The CTO secretary general also revealed that cruise arrivals grew at a slower pace of 1.3 per cent to approximately 26.3 million, while the hotel sector recorded negative growth, with all hotel indicators contracting, with the exception of the number of available rooms, which grew by just over one per cent, according to Smith Travel Research.

Regarding the outlook for 2017, the CTO predicts increases of 2.5 and 3.5 per cent in long-stay arrivals and increases of between 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent in cruise passenger arrivals.

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UN experts say US travel ban – a ‘significant setback’ for those needing international protection

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 2, , CMC – A group of experts from the United Nations has expressed concern that the new executive order by United States President Donald Trump is in breach of the country’s human rights commitments.

“Such an order is clearly discriminatory based on one’s nationality and leads to increased stigmatization of Muslim communities,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on migrants –  François Crépeau; on racisim –  Mutuma Ruteere; on  human rights and counter terrorism – Ben Emmerson; on torture –  Nils Melzer; and on freedom of religion –  Ahmed Shaheed. in a statement issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

index“The US recent policy on immigration also risks people being returned, without proper individual assessments and asylum procedures, to places in which they risk being subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in direct contravention of international humanitarian and human rights laws which uphold the principle of non-refoulement,” they warned.

The Executive Order, signed by Trump on January 27, bars all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the US for the next 90 days.

It also stops the entire US refugee programme for 120 days, indefinitely bans Syrian refugees, and halts the planned entry of more than 50,000 refugees in the US fiscal year 2017, which began in October 2016 and will end in September 2017.

Noting that “in the midst of the world’s greatest migration crisis since World War II, this is a significant setback for those who are obviously in need of international protection,” the rights experts stressed: “The US must live up to its international obligations and provide protection for those fleeing persecution and conflicts.”

“The US is also involved in conflicts such as those in Iraq and Syria and its responsibility must extend to offering refuge to those fleeing from the conflicts,” they added.

The Executive Order also applies to those who come from the countries listed – whether or not they have valid visa documents or are in transit.

It also affects those who have dual nationality, who either have a passport from one of those countries or are travelling from one of those countries.

“This is deeply troubling, and we are additionally concerned that such persons travelling to the US will be subject to detention for an undefined period of time and then ultimately deported,” the human rights experts said.

Earlier this week Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarkes warned that Trump’s order may extend to the Caribbean.

“I am concerned that he could expand that if we don’t organize and push back now,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told an emergency meeting of the Muslim community in her Brooklyn, New York district Sunday night.

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LIAT pilots waiting to see how the airline deals with disruptive passenger

CNN —  December 30, 2016  

ST JOHN’S, Antigua — The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) said in a press statement on Thursday that it is waiting to be informed of the measures LIAT will take in dealing with a passenger who caused the disruption and cancellation of one of its flights on December 13, 2016.The passenger, who was on-board an aircraft in Barbados, destined for St Vincent, made a serious allegation that they had detected the smell of alcohol on one of the pilots.

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LIALPA said it is aware of the standing procedures the company has in dealing with disruptive passengers.

In the past, these measures have included legal action taken against the passenger(s) and/or the passenger(s) being blacklisted on all LIAT operated flights.

“We are confident that LIAT will deal with this situation no differently.

“We have noted LIAT’s press release where the company strongly refuted the allegations against the pilot, and also noted the pilot’s voluntary submission of independent medical testing showing negative results. We wish to thank the company for clearing the air and letting the public know that the pilot was completely innocent of the allegation.

“However, based on precedent, we are not satisfied with LIAT simply saying that no findings or action was taken by any airport or other authority on the passenger’s allegation. Therefore, we await the company informing us of the actions it will take against this disruptive passenger,” LIALPA continued.

LIALPA stated that it was never in doubt that the pilot was innocent of the allegation and it continues to stand unequivocally in support of our pilot.

“We will also do whatever is necessary to protect the pilot’s reputation and will explore all avenues in doing so.

“LIALPA regrets the disruption and subsequent cancellation of the flight. We want to reassure the travelling public that we are always committed and dedicated to serving you at the highest professional levels. Our social contract with the Caribbean people is unbreakable, and our commitment to transporting you at the highest levels of safety is and always will remain paramount,” the statement concluded.

See earlier report:

LIAT pilot at center of drunken allegation, cleared

by STAFF WRITER

JOHN’S, Antigua, Dec 19, CMC – The Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT, Monday said that a pilot accused by a passenger on board one its flights last week of smelling of alcohol, had been cleared of the allegation after he “voluntarily submitted to independent testing by medical professionals in Barbados”.

In a statement, the airline said that the incident had occurred on December 13, when the passenger on the flight to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport, “alleged (to have) detected the smell of alcohol on one of the operating pilots”.

“LIAT’s record of safety and training is of the highest standard and the company strongly refutes any such allegation made towards any of its pilots. The pilot voluntarily submitted to independent testing by medical professionals in Barbados shortly after the allegation and as expected, all results were negative.

“All required protocols were followed by our staff and certain passengers were required to submit formal reports to the relevant authorities. This resulted in further delay and the eventual cancellation of the flight.”

LIAT said that “no findings or action was taken by any airport or other authority on the passenger’s allegation.

“LIAT sincerely regrets the disruption of its flight and wishes to assure its passengers that the company, its staff and its crew will continue to operate and serve the travelling public,” the statement noted.

Several media outlets in the Caribbean had reported the incident last Tuesday with one passenger telling reporters “when we were already on the plane, a passenger made an accusation. She said she smelled alcohol on the pilot. The pilot had just passed in the aisle and she said she smelled alcohol on the pilot. And then, the other passengers were like, ‘Yes. We smell alcohol”

The traveller said other passengers then said that that they were not going to travel on a plane where the pilot might have been drinking.

“So she (the passenger) then asked for the pilot to take a breath test. He, of course, refused, and he said if we don’t feel safe travelling with him, he was going to cancel the flight. He, at that point, walked off the plane and went outside.

“The other pilot kept saying that the guy was not drinking alcohol for the day. The lady (passenger) then said she has kids and she has a husband and if he (the pilot) has not been drinking then prove it; let him take a breath test because she smelled alcohol on him when he passed in the aisle.”

The passengers were flown to St. Vincent on Wednesday after spending Tuesday night in Barbados.

Meanwhile, President of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots’ Association, Captain Carl Burke said the incident underscored “a total lack of respect for the crew, which was displayed by the passengers”.

Burke told the Observer newspaper that the passengers’ behaviour could be as a result of the recent treatment of pilots by management.

“I am not too sure if it’s because of allegations being made by management about pilots being irresponsible, being always sick, of trying to cause the company harm,” Burke said, adding “we heard allegations coming from a particular shareholder that during the carnival, pilots called sick and go out and enjoy themselves.”

According to Burke, LIAT pilots have a reputation for taking their jobs seriously.

“For years, we have seen that these pilots have taken their jobs very seriously, and I would be very curious if that happened to any of our members,” he said.

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Antigua-Barbuda closes 2016 on a high, celebrating 100,000th US visitor arrival

 CNN — January 2, 2017  
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From left: ABTA CEO, Colin James; Tourism Cadet, Alicia Paul; Tourism Consultant Shirlene Nibbs, 100,000th visitors Greg Murphy and Jean Larsen; US Director of Tourism, Kim Jack Riley

ST JOHN’S, Antigua — Antigua and Barbuda ended 2016 on a high note by celebrating the arrival of the 100,000th US visitor in the year for the first time in recorded arrivals history. This milestone is a crowning achievement in a banner year for tourism that included announcing multiple new properties, breaking ground on new projects, the extension of Heritage Quay Pier that welcomed a Quantum class vessel, Anthem of the Seas, for the first time and a variety of awards and achievements. 

The 100,000th US visitor was Jean Larsen, an artist and philanthropist, working with Pink Rock, a breast cancer survivor charity. Larsen who was traveling with her partner, Greg Murphy, on American Airlines from New York-JFK to VC Bird International Airport, was greeted by the minister of tourism, economic development, investment and energy, Asot Michael; CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James; tourism consultant Shirlene Nibbs; US director of tourism, Kim Jack Riley; and tourism cadet, Alicia Paul, with flowers and prizes.

All of the passengers on the flight were treated to special music and dancers upon arrival, as well as a gift bag filled with local delicacies and a discount code for island tours to complement their stays.

Michael shared his pleasure at reaching this landmark, “Today is a great day for Antigua and Barbuda as we mark a significant milestone and celebrate the end of a momentous year for our country. Despite trends across the region showing a decrease in visitor arrivals and spend, our twin-isle nation is defying the odds and showing significant growth in both, including double-digit growth from the US market. Antigua and Barbuda is asserting itself as the new leader in the Caribbean, from new properties, to a growing cruise market, to increased airlift, and we predict 2017 will be an even stronger year in tourism.”

Tourism arrivals from the US have been strong throughout the year, with double-digit growth month over month. According to the latest statistics, at the end of November 2016, arrivals from the US were at an 18.35% year over year increase that is predicted to remain the same or grow once December figures are released.

This growth is particularly significant as the US remains Antigua and Barbuda’s largest source market for arrivals. Overall visitor arrivals have also increased by a strong 7.42% year over year as of November with numbers suggesting the year will end on a substantial increase with over 250,000 visitors overall.

 

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Jenny's tours staff manage ferry operations in ANU

Jaden Sun ferry comes to Montserrat with an inaugural ceremony and sample run

Comes with improved terminal facilities and online booking systems

Last week on November 24, 2016 the Government of Montserrat signed a long awaited contract with Jaden Inc. owners of the Jaden sun ‘fast ferry’ signaling the resumption of ferry services between Antigua and Montserrat, with the potential of services to other islands, such as occasional excursions to St Kitts, Nevis, Guadeloupe and St. Maarten.

According to the Premier the achievement of firstly the agreement by DFID to reinstate the ferry service was ‘hard fought’. The service was welcomed with an Inaugural ceremony on Thursday, Dec 1, followed by a sponsored trip to Antigua as a test of the ride and services along with a sampling of the renovated terminal in Antigua. Also in train was testing the new ‘Online Booking Service’ for the ferry service.

Some 71 persons (we learnt was planned for 20 to 30) included the the Hon Premier Donaldson Romeo, the access coordinator representatives from various government departments, the business community and the media, participated in an organized test run, which according to the feedback or first reaction from the Premier’s office, highlighted some challenges. According to the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Camille Gerald noted, they are not difficult to overcome, a view shared by the Ag. Access Coordinator Leandre Tuitt.

Mrs. Gerald said, “I think it went well; it was a test… we anticipated we would have hiccups – we had a few but not any that we cannot deal with,” explaining these were due to poor internet service Antigua, immigration problems and with the new online booking system in Montserrat.

She also said the test run was a late decision for which the Antigua authorities were no prepared as the plan was for the ferry to begin officially today, December 2, but she was grateful port authorities, that on a short request, obliged only to turn up on Thursday at the port and found there was no Digicel internet service.

Most of the persons who took the opportunity for the few hours in Antigua and the test run had satisfying experiences with the ferry ride and service as well as glowing remarks about the renovated terminal in Antigua. “The ferry ride was good, I like the new uniforms of the (Jennys..staff) – I thought Antigua got closer Montserrat… with the ride.

I think it went well it was a test we anticipated woe would have hiccups we had a few but not any that we cannot deal with immigration here as a result of the booking. but these things that can be fixed gratitude to immigration officials in Antigua who were not expecting said they were disappointed because of Digicel. Things would have been sooner.

The ferry ride was good, like the new uniform. Thought Antigua got closer to Montserrat the ride was nice…” One person remembered the days, “we had to sit outside on the sidewalk waiting on the ferry this is definitely an improvement.”

remembering waiting on the side outside.

Montserrat has been without a ferry service since April 2016 when renewal arrangements of the contract with Caribe Sun were botched and ill-prepared. Going forward the Government even after having approved funding for a ferry, met with hazards according to official sources, involving the Department for International Development (DfiD) particularly on the local front. After procurement failures made difficult, negotiations with the Premier and DFID headquarters, an eventual fast tracked (single-source) procurement conducted in conjunction with the Government resulted in the Jaden Sun ferry landing a ten month contract. According to sources, the hazards encountered included giving exorbitant and special interest access contracts not necessarily related to the ferry service.

“The Jaden Sun with a passenger capacity of 218 began scheduled operations today December 2, 2016. It is expected to also provide luggage and small cargo services. It will be based at Port Little Bay, Montserrat, with additional accommodation to dock at the Old Plymouth Jetty as required.”

See photos at –  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themontserratreporter/photos/pb.203080105851.-2207520000.1481281613./10154255843780852/?type=3&theater

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Jaden Sun

New ferry to resume services between Montserrat and Antigua

Jaden Sun

Jaden Sun

In a release on Friday, the Government of Montserrat says it is pleased to announce that the ferry service between Montserrat and Antigua will resume on Friday, December 2nd, 2016.

In a press conference on Thursday November 24th, 2016, Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo indicated to the press that the Government of Montserrat has entered a ferry services contract with the Ferry Operator Jaden Inc. of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Jaden Inc. is the owner of the fast ferry Jaden Sun which has the capacity to carry 218 passengers and some small cargo .During the press conference owner and Captain of Jaden Sun Elvis Gooding, expressed his enthusiasm in offering his company’s services to Montserrat and pledged his commitment to the Government and people of Montserrat.

Jaden Sun is expected to operate up to 6 days per week between Montserrat and Antigua with the possibility of occasional excursions to St Kitts, Nevis, Guadeloupe and St. Maarten.

Ticket prices are expected to remain the same as follows:

Round Trip Adults – EC $300

Round Trip Children under 12 years – EC $150

Round Trip 0 – 2 years – EC $50

More to come in TMR full report

Jaden Sun ferry – https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GOEI3M98dXk

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liat

LIAT discontinues service to Anguilla and Nevis

 
ST. JOHN’S , Antigua, Nov. 20, CMC – Regional carrier LIAT, has opted not to continue service to the islands of Anguilla and Nevis, following the expiration of a short tern arrangement with Caribbean Helicopters of Antigua .

liatLIAT says it opted not to renew an agreement with Caribbean Helicopters of Antigua to facilitate limited airlift to the islands.

The agreement officially ended on Saturday.

“As we continue to pursue our relentless pursuit of operational efficiency and profitability, both us and our partner, Caribbean Helicopters, have decided not to  extend the arrangement,” stated LIAT’s Chief Commercial Officer, Lloyd Carswell.

Airline officials have noted that in 2017, “some route rationalization is likely to continue” but they will continue to explore the best possible ways to improve the carriers bottom line.

“LIAT is honoured to have been able to assist the islands of Anguilla and Nevis in the augmentation of their airlift for 2016, and we would like to take this opportunity to wish them the very best in the development of their tourism product for the future,” the airline noted in a release on the weekend.

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The Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800 flying in for a first low-level pass over the new St Helena Airport, below the ruin of Prosperous Bay House and King & Queen Rock.

British Airways 737-800 First Landing On St Helena

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The Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800 flying in for a first low-level pass over the new St Helena Airport, below the ruin of Prosperous Bay House and King & Queen Rock.

The Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800 flying in for a first low-level pass over the new St Helena Airport, below the ruin of Prosperous Bay House and King & Queen Rock.

THE FLIGHT FROM THE TOP OF THE BARN | Sharon Henry

The last time we clambered onto ‘The Barn‘ the airport runway was only partially laid, this time we’ve scrambled up to watch an actual aeroplane land on that completed piece of gleaming concrete. And not just any aeroplane, a spanking new Boeing 737-800, operated by Comair, emblazoned with British Airways livery in the red, white and blue of the Union Jack. It’s the first passenger plane to touchdown on the new landing strip, the BIG one after the three smaller calibration flights before it.

Taking A Risk Or Two

Photography is often all about different angles; we also like to add a little adventure and for today’s special shoot we spiced it up with some altitude. That is to the dizzying 616 metre height of ‘The Barn,’ one of St Helena’s most challenging (and may I add dangerous) hikes.

On our way to try a different angle for the big Boeing's arrival. The large boxy hulk of The Barn in the distance, very grey and dull on an overcast morning.

On our way to try a different angle for the big Boeing’s arrival. The large boxy hulk of The Barn in the distance, very grey and dull on an overcast morning.

Arriving at The Barn Post Box with the cloud closing in. At 616m, this is one of the more difficult post box walks on St Helena, nearly all of the route is over steep, difficult terrain.

Arriving at The Barn Post Box with the cloud closing in. At 616m, this is one of the more difficult post box walks on St Helena, nearly all of the route is over steep, difficult terrain.

There are a number of these solar powered safety beacons that have been installed on top of the Barn as part of the St Helena Airport project. Quite impressive that someone carried all this equipement up here!

There are a number of these solar powered safety beacons that have been installed on top of the Barn as part of the St Helena Airport project. Quite impressive that someone carried all this equipment up here!

The Barn is a hulking brute of a rock that from ground level seems to jut scarily close into the flight path of approaching aircraft. We decided last minute it would be a great spot to get a different angle and maybe even reach out and touch the plane!

It was one of those things though that sounded like a good idea at the time. However, in the cold, cloudy light of dawn it lost some fizz when I thought of the two hour plus walk we had ahead of us. I should also mention that The Barn is notorious for unpredictable cloud cover that can accumulate suddenly. One minute there’ll be glorious sunshine the next a complete white-out. We were taking a risk and after a hard slog we could end up with an empty memory card.

The St Helena Weather

There was already a fluffy layer of cloud on The Barn when we set off on the dot of 8, lugging cameras, telephoto lens, heavy-weight tripod, sandwiches and birthday cake. Our godson’s 10th birthday was to be marked with this milestone.

Amazing views from the top of The Barn, especially with the weather now clear. Munching into our sandwiches and birthday cake while we wait on Comair/British Airways to arrive at St Helena.

Amazing views from the top of The Barn, especially with the weather now clear. Munching into our sandwiches and birthday cake while we wait on Comair/British Airways to arrive at St Helena.

The long wait is finally over - the Comair operated, British Airways 737-800 appears behind us over the top of The Barn, lining up on the runway.

The long wait is finally over – the Comair operated, British Airways 737-800 appears behind us over the top of The Barn, lining up on the runway.

British Airways 737-800 lands on St Helena - What The Saints Did

The new St Helena Airport is built in the shadow King & Queen Rock which provides a dramatic backdrop for the British Airways 737-800 as it approaches the beginning of the runway.

Not wanting to get caught out by missing status updates, we tuned into SAMS Radio 1 for changes in the flight schedule. The ETA had moved from 11.40 to 11.50am. The weather ran through a repertoire of dullness, splashes of blue sky, spots of rain, swathes of mist then a miraculous turn to clear skies and sunshine.

By the time we’d eaten our picnic and licked our fingers of cake crumbs we had an hour of playing the waiting game.

Darrin, having learned from his error of missing the fly-pass of the first plane to land on St Helena‘s a few months ago due to chatting, was now a stickler for preparedness and constantly scanned the skyline whilst listening for jet engine sounds.

Sea Rescue service on standby off the coastline, viewed from the top of The Barn.

Sea Rescue service on standby off the coastline, viewed from the top of The Barn.

737-800 Landing On St Helena

Then at 11.52 the shiny tube of ZS-ZWG popped into sight from behind us and it was action stations; camera on rapid burst and video camera rolling.

The pilot did a brilliantly skilful fly-by skimming just 50 feet above the runway, much to our delight and I’m sure the large population of onlookers, including the island’s school children, who had congregated around the safety zones of the brand new St Helena airport. Darrin being a ‘Top Gun’ nut was ecstatic.

Great view of the brand new jet as she glides past The Barn against the blue Atlantic, about to carry out the second fly-by at the new St Helena Airport. The British Airways 737-800 is operated by South African airline, Comair.

Great view of the brand new jet as she glides past The Barn against the blue Atlantic, about to carry out the second fly-by at the new St Helena Airport. The British Airways 737-800 is operated by South African airline, Comair.

View from near the Millennium Forest of the Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800 on final approach to the St Helena Airport, with spectators on the top of Horse Point. Photo courtesy of Pat Henry.

View from near the Millennium Forest of the Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800 on final approach to the St Helena Airport, with spectators on the top of Horse Point.
Photo courtesy of Pat Henry.

The St Helena Airport landscape is a ruggedly dramatic sight for passengers on flights making the final approach to the runway.

The St Helena Airport landscape is a ruggedly dramatic sight for passengers on flights making the final approach to the runway.

Then after it had circled around and come in on a second approach, this time with landing gear down, we had a heart-stopping moment. Just as the wheels were about to kiss the runway, the aircraft suddenly pulled up hard and fast and leapt back into the sky. Not sure if it was a planned test or a problem with landing but it certainly was dramatic.

The 737-800 on its second pass looked as though it was about to touch down, then suddenly powered up and climbed steeply away from the runway.

The 737-800 on its second pass looked as though it was about to touch down, then suddenly powered up and climbed steeply away from the runway.

British Airways 737-800 lands on St Helena - What The Saints Did

The dramatic and stunning final approach for aircraft landing at the new St Helena Airport, flying in over the Atlantic Ocean, right past King & Queen Rock before landing. This is the very first ‘big’ aircraft to land here, a Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800. The airplane has flown from Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800 landing at the new St Helena Airport. The colourful earth and lunar terrain on Prosperous Bay Plain makes for a dramatic arrival scene for passengers.

The Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800 landing at the new St Helena Airport.
The colourful earth and lunar terrain on Prosperous Bay Plain makes for a dramatic arrival scene for passengers.

Touchdown at 12:08 for the Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800, the first of its size and type to land at St Helena Airport. Viewed from near the Millennium Forest with spectators at Bradley's Camp visible in the foreground. Photo courtesy of Pat Henry.

Touchdown at 12:08 for the Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800, the first of its size and type to land at St Helena Airport. Viewed from near the Millennium Forest with spectators at Bradley’s Camp visible in the foreground.
Photo courtesy of Pat Henry.

St Helena Airport in the distance has a Boeing 737-800 on the apron.

St Helena Airport in the distance has a Boeing 737-800 on the apron.

The third round was less so and the airplane touched down at 12.08pm with a textbook landing. A happy pilot no doubt and contented photographers; we had three chances to capture some excellent shots especially with the awesome backdrop of King & Queen Rocks and Prosperous Bay House.

The Only Way Is Up From Here

I still find it astonishing that we have an airport here on St Helena. And today is particularly poignant thinking of the loved ones who did not live to enjoy this moment with us. Crazy though, that finally we are entering the world of air travel. I’m getting a head rush from the excitement coursing through my veins thinking of the easier and cheaper travel options soon to be available for Saints.

Mind you, that head rush might also be attributed to thoughts of our two hour return journey. But coming here was definitely worth the effort of adding more amazing albums to our adventures in photography.

Hundreds of islanders turned out to witness the Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800, land at St Helena Airport. This the long line of vehicles leaving on the Bottomwoods Road after the event. Photo courtesy of Pat Henry.

Hundreds of islanders turned out to witness the Comair operated, British Airways Boeing 737-800, land at St Helena Airport. This the long line of vehicles leaving on the Bottomwoods Road after the event.
Photo courtesy of Pat Henry.

Making the long walk back home after a successul day on top of The Barn shooting the first passenger jet to land on St Helena.

Making the long walk back home after a successul day on top of The Barn shooting the first passenger jet to land on St Helena.

St Helena's new Airport has passed its first big test - a Boeing 737-800 has made a first landing and is taxing to the terminal.

St Helena’s new Airport has passed its first big test – a Boeing 737-800 has made a first landing and is taxing to the

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