Helicopter Boss Says Cornishman Letter Incorrect

The heliport at Penzance

The boss of British International Helicopters says a letter in the Cornishman newspaper, which makes claims challenging his company’s commitments to operate all year round from St Erth, isn’t helpful.

Tony Jones says he wants to reassure people that the contents of the letter from Tim James, published last Thursday, were “in all regards, except the second paragraph, untrue.”

The letter stated that, following the move, the operation would be for the summer season only and that the majority of jobs would go to Newquay.

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Tony says BIH still intends to move their whole Penzance operation to St Erth adding that as soon as planning permission is granted to allow supermarket giant Sainsbury’s to develop the current heliport site, then they will make plans to move to the new West Cornwall transport hub by the village’s railway station.

BIH have taken out a 25-year lease on the St Erth site, which Tony says demonstrates their commitment to this move.

Work has already started on the St Erth planning application and this will be a ‘detailed’ application, allowing the company to move quickly to the building stage if granted. Tony told us there is overwhelming support locally for the plan and he’s confident on gaining the required permission for the new heliport.

However he said the plan is still dependent on the sale of the existing site to Sainsbury’s, which will release the capital required for the other parts of the BIH business – if that doesn’t happen then the service will have to stop but he’s confident that won’t happen.

The helicopter operation can remain at Penzance until October this year although the exact timing will be dependent on the granting of Sainsbury’s planning approval.

Tony says there might be a delay of a couple of weeks or they may have to temporarily relocate to Newquay but this will just be a stopgap while preparation work is underway at St Erth.

He says the company is not getting calls from concerned customers and Robert Dorrien Smith has put a statement on his website to give reassurance to Tresco-bound travellers.

He’s also holding regular staff meetings to ensure company employees have all the facts.

The company has meetings with the Council on Thursday and Friday of this week and Tony is hopeful these may shed some light on the current progress.