The remote south Atlantic dependency of St Helena is to have its first airport in 2012 when the current Royal Mail Ship, St Helena, will be withdrawn from service. For many years the ship was operated from Falmouth by Curnow Shipping from its Killigrew Street office. In a referendum, a majority of the 3,800 islanders voted in favour of the airport, which is seen as the island's future economic lifeline with the outside world. Outgoing governor Michael Clancy said: "The potential growth of tourism is considerable but the St Helena can only carry a maximum of 128 passengers, which puts a limit on development."
The St Helena government expect tourist numbers to increase to 10,000 per year after the airport is built. The isolated island, 1,200 miles off the coast of Africa is best known as the island where Napoleon Bonaparte was imprisoned until he died in 1821. The fourth HMS Northumberland conveyed Napoleon from Plymouth to St Helena, where the late Emperor disembarked in October 1815. The ship called into Falmouth to shelter enroute to the South Atlantic. RMS St Helena, which was launched by HRH The Duke of York in 1989, is a 6,767 ton liner that carries 128 passengers and 2,000 tons of cargo. The ships also visits Ascension Island - Tristan da Cunha, as well as Cape Town and Walvis Bay in Namibia.