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The first large passenger jet landed on 18 April 2016, a Boeing 737-800 operated by Comair for British Airways.

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These are Code D aircraft requiring the addition of shoulders along both sides of the runway, a wider taxiway and apron, and a higher fire fighting capacity (ICAO rescue fire fighting service category 7).These enhancements will also make it possible for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules to operate to and from St Helena, though the runway is unlikely to be able to accommodate larger Code D aircraft, such as the Boeing 767.The airport has a LDA (landing distance available) of 1,535 metres (5,036 ft) for the northbound runway 02 and 1,550 metres (5,085 ft) for the wind shear affected southbound runway 20.twin-engined passenger aircraft up to the size of the Airbus A319, Boeing 737, and the Boeing 757-200.There were delays by the British government, An approved bidder was appointed in 2008, the Italian company Impregilo.

The project was suspended in November 2008, because of financial pressures brought on by the financial crisis of 2007–2010.Following the decision for a shorter runway of 1,550 metres, the planned use of Boeing 737-800 aircraft had been ruled out in the first instance.Instead the airport was to be designed to receive Boeing 737-700 aircraft.The extra income possible per in-bound flight from cargo could be as high as the income equivalent of 19 passengers, giving an effective load factor of 88% and could reduce ticket prices.Due to the short runway and the long distance to South Africa, a Boeing 737-700 flying to Johannesburg is not able to use its full seat and cargo capacity.However, on 17 July 2012 the St Helena Government and Basil Read agreed to a change to the runway design which includes widening the embankment over an additional 40 metres (130 ft) at the southern end, paving an additional 100 metres (330 ft) of the runway with concrete, providing larger turning circles at the runway ends, and increasing the size of the apron.