As you will know, the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) is a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, east of the southern most area of Argentina. There are typically three ways to get to the Falklands, one being from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on flight RR2233.
Historically RR2233 would stop en route on the Ascension Island for refuelling and crew change, but due to runway maintenance, from 11th June 2017, flight RR2233 will now stop on Sal Island until 2020. Passengers will be taken off the aircraft for some 2 hours, but are not able to disembark/embark here as was permitted on Ascension. The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) commented:
“In April 2017, the decision was made that the South Atlantic Airbridge could no longer land on Ascension Island due to the condition of the runway surface. As a result, Cape Verde is now being used as a mid-flight stop to refuel the aircraft and conduct a crew change. Cape Verde is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. Located 570 kilometres (350 miles) off the coast of West Africa. The aircraft will be using Amílcar Cabral International Airport on the island of Sal to conduct its mid-flight refuel. The stay on Sal will be approximately 2 hours.”
Further, in it’s Press Release, the MoD said it is pleased to announce that a final decision has been taken on the location of the refuelling hub for the South Atlantic Airbridge (SAA).
“The SAA will continue to transit through Sal, Cape Verde until 2020, when the Ascension Island runway resurfacing project is expected to be complete. The MoD will continue to provide seats to civilian passengers throughout this period, as per the existing agreement with the Falkland Islands Government.
“Passengers are now able to disembark the aircraft during the stopover in Sal and make use of the airside airport facilities.
“Ascension Island remains a strategically important site for the MoD and the UK. The 2 mile runway at Wideawake Airfield requires a full-depth resurfacing, but smaller military aircraft, including the RAF C17, C130 and A400M, can still operate safely.
“Given Ascension’s isolated location and the resultant logistical challenge, the repair works are not expected to be completeuntil 2020.The runway is owned and operated by the US Air Force under the Bahamas Agreement and they are thereforeresponsible for the design, management and delivery of the resurfacing project.”
Brigadier Bennett, Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands, said
“With this announcement, we draw a line under the uncertainty that has existed about the South Atlantic Airbridge over the past few weeks. I look forward to continuing my close work with the Falkland Islands Government.”