Dear friends and future customers,
We regretfully inform you of a delay to commencement of ticket sales, originally planned for Monday. The reasons for the delay are complex, and in the spirit of maintaining open and honest communications we will share them with you.
In our ongoing dialogue with the Airport Access Team at SHG it has been brought to our attention a regulation that lies within the Air Navigation Order pertaining to the British Overseas Territories requiring us to have a specific Permission to go on sale. The team at SHG highlighted this to us this week and we are grateful to them for doing so. In no way are SHG trying to prevent Atlantic Star from operating from the UK to St. Helena but they are, quite rightly, making sure that we operate on a firm regulatory footing.
The specific regulation which we need to satisfy arises from the fact that we are not using a British carrier to operate the flights; TUI-fly will be using an aircraft operated by TUI Netherlands, registered in Holland. The aviation legislation that covers the British Overseas Territories is very unusual in that in certain areas it makes a distinction between British and non-British carriers. Almost all European aviation related legislation applies Europe-wide and carriers that are accredited in any one country share rights across all countries. Previously, when intending to use Titan Airways, the particular regulation did not apply, and the implications of using a replacement Dutch carrier were in this area overlooked. Atlantic Star take full responsibility for this oversight, it is our mistake, certainly not a mistake by SHG or TUI-fly.
We are acutely aware that this delay will come as a great disappointment to you, our future customers. For that we apologise unreservedly, and commit to resolving the situation as quickly as possible. There is no reason why the permission will not be granted given the status of TUI-fly as a European regulated carrier with ETOPS qualification and experience already embedded. For this reason we remain confident that our original flight dates, pricing and operational arrangements will not change - this is simply a necessary delay to the sale of tickets. The contracts between Atlantic Star, our ticketing partner TravelPack and TUI-fly remain in place and we do not expect these to be affected by this delay.
Once again we offer our sincere apologies and hope that you will understand that we are taking all steps possible to resolve this unusual and unforeseen situation as quickly as possible. We have always known that running an air service to St. Helena would be challenging and that there would be bumps in the road for all of us. This is one such bump. We will overcome it working together with the teams at SHG, the UK CAA and ASSI. It is not possible at this stage to deliver a timescale for resolution but all parties are committed to working towards one with appropriate speed and necessary diligence.
We will keep you updated via email and website announcements and still expect to be able to welcome you on board our flights in 2016 as planned.
With Best Regards
Richard, Andrew and Aiden
Directors, Atlantic Star Airlines