FIGAS: The Air Taxi Service That Keeps The Falkland Islands Connected
BY JONATHAN E. HENDRY for simply flying
The aircraft has to be booked for each flight, with each schedule released the day before.
Passengers attempting to get around the Falkland Islands are likely to and a small airplane that lands on grass runways. The Falkland Islands Government Aviation Service (FIGAS) and its fleet of five Britten-Norman BN-2B Islanders often undertake transportation in the group of islands. Unlike other commercial operators, FIGAS is not a scheduled service provider and works instead as an air taxi service. The airline’s daily flights are determined by the requirements of those wishing to travel on the day.
Photo © crown Copyright (FIGAS)
All international flights to the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) arrive and depart from Mount Pleasant Airport (MPN), a short distance from the capital city of Stanley. The airport is the home of an active Royal Air Force base which shares the runways but has separate facilities. Domestic flights operate primarily from the area’s only other paved runway at Port Stanley Airport (PSY).
How does the air taxi work?
The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland, and 776 lesser islands. Passengers wishing to travel must call or email with their requirements to make a booking by 10:00 the day before the intended travel. Customers must include their requested date of travel, number of travelers, and requested destinations.
Simple Flying previously looked at how to get to the Falkland Islands by air.
The flight schedule is published every afternoon the following day with information regarding confirmed passengers and check-in times. A copy of the daily schedule is also forwarded to accommodation providers and travel agents, published on the FIGAS Facebook page, and broadcast on the local radio station during the evening announcements.
Caught one of the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) Islanders on approach into Stanley earlier. There aren't many roads down here, so this can be the best method to get to certain parts of the islands. pic.twitter.com/bkC6GLtNgE — Matt Hughes (@Hughes_Matt) October 3, 2021
FIGAS uses its fleet of four islanders to offer the air taxi flights in set rotations from Stanley via Port Howard, Pebble Island, Hill Cove, Fox Bay, to Bleaker Island and from Stanley to Saunders Island via Sea Lion Island, Port Edgar, Weddell Island, Hill Cove, and West Point Island.
An all-Islander fleet.
FIGAS has operated Islanders since October 1979 and is the Southern-most operator of the type. The current fleet of five Islanders is essential in keeping the Falklands and some of its more remote communities connected. In addition to air taxi flights, the carrier also undertakes air ambulance, mail delivery, freight, environmental monitoring, fishery patrol, and scenic flights.
Britten-Norman delivered the first of two brand-new BN2B-26 Islander aircraft to the Falkland Islands Government Aviation Service in December 2020. Registered VP-FMC, the aircraft began its journey in the UK at Hampshire before flying with a single pilot through Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the USA, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile before arriving in the Falkland Islands.
A second Islander was scheduled for delivery in 2021 but has not yet been delivered. Simple Flying has contacted the Falkland Islands Government Aviation Service and Britten-Norman for further information. Kurt Whitney, Quality Manager at FIGAS, commented on how well the aircraft suit the needs of the local are:
“Islanders are a perfect fit for the Falkland Islands. They can handle a variety of conditions that other aircraft cannot – FIGAS only operate out of two surfaced runways, the rest are clay, sand and grass.”
“The Falklands has an increasingly busy tourist season. In recent years we have seen passenger numbers rise from 5,800 to 8,800. Despite some initial Covid-19 disruption, we are confident this will keep on increasing.”
The FIGAS flight operations are maintained to a very high standard and supported by the FIGAS Maintenance Section, which is responsible for servicing the fleet of aircraft from its base at Stanley Airport.
About The Author
Jonathan E. Hendry(280 Articles Published)
Jonathan served as an International Air Cadet Exchange Ambassador to Canada, and was stationed at RAF Lakenheath as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S Air Force. With a passion for discovering new destinations, he has visited over 70 countries from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. Jonathan holds degree
Source: Key Aero