Council To Address Decrease in Air Passenger Numbers

St Mary's Airport

The Council is advertising for an expert to help them address the year-on-year decrease in passenger numbers through the airport.

In 2002 there were 144,000 people coming to St Mary’s by air. Last year that number had fallen to 114,000.

They’re trying to find a consultant who can advise on how the terminal building could be improved and how navigation aids could be enhanced to stop disruption when there’s low cloud, crosswinds or a wet surface.

Council staff hope to find an expert who can advise on whether it is possible to designate our link a public service obligation route. That could mean a state subsidy and reduced fares for locals similar to the Scottish islands’ services.

The finished report should suggest how to improve the customer experience and improve resilience as well as meet with future regulations.

Applicants have until 7th October to come forward.


21 Responses to Council To Address Decrease in Air Passenger Numbers

  1. Nigel October 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Did any applicants come forward before the 7th October deadline? If not read all above and guess the answer!

  2. Peter Leahy September 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Do you think the Council could call in an expert to find out why the Council needs to find an expert to solve this problem? What are the Council really saying. Are they saying that they do not have people with the ability to investigate the “Cause ” or do they not understand what is happening all over the world let alone the country regards the economic situation, job losses,etc,etc.
    When expense becomes a priority in a budget the change of plan is always active. This is not only the first rule in business, but in any budget. If it is not worth the money,you don’t do it. Not because you would not like to do it but because you cannot afford to do it, for good reason.
    Why do we not have feedback survey pamphlets available to our visiting public asking them to help by giving us an understanding of their views on what the possible problems are and have these addressed with a co-ordinated summary and follow up.
    These are the people we are talking about not some expert to come back with what “the experts” views are. The expert is paid to do a job,the feedback is not always the “real cause”.
    You have a lot of variable feedback already from people commenting to this article, that alone should motivate some positive action from the Council to get their act together.
    Last but not least,don’t just look at transport costs to the islands from the mainland as your main concern,look at overall costs.

  3. George Kershaw September 22, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I just hope that whoever it was in the Council that decided that someone is needed to work out why passenger numbers are falling is reading this!
    The message is loud and clear flight costs to and from the islands are too expensive!
    A lot of talk about running cost,etc all very well and understood, but it comes down to profit margins at the end of the day and it seems to me that when operators flight numbers are low we start to see a few better value deals here and there.
    Maybe instead of this last minute push for numbers an overall drop in flight costs would be alot more beneficial to the whole islands.

  4. Glyn September 20, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Have read these comments and would add that as a annual visitor using helicopter there is nothing wrong with facilities at all, in fact a pleasurable experience. It is getting a bit expensive but so are the often poor value restaurants. I am more concerned about the cancelations and the future of the helicopters who are still not taking bookings next year. Weather aids which would reduce cancelations would help enormously if I am to use Skybus. If the boat was the only viable option I would not come at all mainly because of the departure and return time in Penzance meaning 2 nights wasted there plus the cost. Holding offbooking accommodation until helicopter position clearer

  5. Nat September 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Did the £60k Blue Sail report not have all the answers or were its conclusions written by the operators beforehand?
    There is no doubt the cost of travel is behind the falling visitor numbers, all the other excuses (poor food, accommodation, traffic) are secondry.

  6. Touchan September 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Nigel, dont be ridiculous…… the council dont listen to human beings!

  7. Phil September 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I don’t imagine the council can do much about the cost of flying other than to subsidise the service but the money would still have to come from somewhere, most likely an increase in council tax.
    Unfortunately a helicopter is just about the most expensive form of passenger-carrying flying machine ever invented. BIH and Skybus obviously have to meet the expense of running their services from passenger fares. Fuel, wages, servicing costs and landing fees all add up.
    I’m sure if any savings could have been made they would have been thought of by now.
    As the grip of the financial crisis tightens, people will dispose of the more expensive luxuries in life, a holiday in Scilly being one. The fact is, it’s cheaper for a family of four to spend three weeks in Greece than a week in Scilly.
    A fuel subsidy underwritten by government would be one way of reducing costs, but I don’t think that would have much effect overall.
    One can only hope that the economy picks up – and soon.

  8. Nigel September 18, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Just wondering if the above comments have helped the council to do something to about the cost of flying? after all it’s us “emmit’s” that helps to boost the local economy.

  9. laura pattenden hunt September 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    It’s too expensive!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing else wrong with the airports or anything, it’s just TOO EXPENSIVE!!!!!!! They don’t need any expert to tell them that, they just need to ask us – the 30,000 people who want to come to scilly but can’t afford it anymore! 🙁

  10. Vaughan Ashby September 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve been visiting Scilly for 33 years and bringing groups of tourists to the islands on birdwatching holidays for over 20 years during which time I estimate that I’ve brought over 300 new visitors to the islands. I agree totally with other comments, the problem is entirely one of travel cost. None of my clients has ever complained about the facilities at either St. Mary’s airport of Penzance heliport, they are all perfectly adequate and the staff always extremely helpful but they are astounded to know that it will cost them £225 to park their cars (in a muddy field!) and cover the 40 miles to the islands. Once on Scilly, prices are not unreasonable given the extra cost of getting supplies to the islands. You do not have to pay a consultant to get this information, industry professionals like myself can provide all the feedback needed. Appointing someone to help get EU and UK grants to improve landing capability of aircraft in reduced visability conditions would be however, be most welcome to improve the reliability of the service.

  11. Ruth Jenkins September 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I am afraid for me a difference of nearly £300 for our family of 5 has made the difference for us – we chose the longer trip on the ferry despite my husband being a poor sailor. I understand there is safety to be ensured and profits have to be made – however with light aircraft economies of scale are severely limited unless passengers per flight can be increased and that affects the capital investment in new planes.

  12. David September 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

    As everyone above has said, it isnt the facilities, it isnt the customer service (which I have to say has been fantastic with skybus holding a plane for us because we were delayed in traffic) its the cost of the flights… I could go abroad for less and often quicker… a flight to Gran canaria means I have to be I can get a 20 minute taxi to the airport for 6oclock in the morning and I’m by the pool at midday. With driving to St Just its 6 hours in the car and the cost of petrol to ship us down there, the cost of parking and then the cost of the flights (next year I’m going to have to bring 2 cars due to a family addition) so twice the parking and twice the petrol then flights for 5 people… which all in all would probably pay for a week abroad somewhere. I have no issue with accommodation costs, 2k for 2 weeks self catering for 5 people is fine, its the other costs on top that are actually making it hard to justify.

  13. Paul September 6, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Appointing a consultant is pointless. They will just borrow your watch and charge you for telling you the time. Cost is clearly the problem. We have been coming to Scilly for over 30 years, every year. It’s not just the cost of the flights it also the cost of nearly £100 for parking a car on a grass field at St.Just. When you get to Scilly prices of accommodation and food and drink are not much higher than the main land. I think Scilly is at the “tipping point”, If the cost of travel is not urgently addressed the tourist industry will contract further which will be of detriment to the majority of islanders but may please the minority who wish tourists did not come in the first place. It is so sad to see the decline.

  14. Annabel September 5, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    The reason is simply the cost, many more people would visit if there were a cheaper way of getting to the islands, you can get to the south of France for less and higher chance of getting good weather. Scilly is lovely but pricing it’s self out of the market.

  15. Oscar August 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I agree with all of the above comments, the only necessary improvement BOTH airports could make is on its navigational aids when the weather takes a turn for the worse. The terminals though are fine in my eyes for delayed passengers, there’s not many airports in the country where you can wander outside after check-in! On the plus side though, there is always the Scillonian III to cover for poor weather conditions, the only downfall being is that she doesn’t sail in the winter, this is where a new combined freighter/passenger ship is required in conjuction with the Scillonian to run in winter months.

  16. Al August 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    This really is daft. Customers will give you all the market analysis you need for free if you invite them on sites like this or when they book their tickets. Details of “Public Service Obligation” funding can be obtained from any Community Council or email the D o Transport and Skybus or BiH should know all about cross winds etc – if not ask the pilots! My own pennyworth – it’s simply cost and lack of any advance cheap fares as any other airline or rail company offers. You can fly to most European destinations and further for far less. Lands End / Penzance and St Marys airports are my favourites anywhere in the world if I’m delayed – they’re not the problem.

  17. Angie August 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    We had to have a refund earlier this month as the airport was fog bound. Most disappointing

  18. Angie August 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    We (2 adults and 1 child of 15), have flown out about 5 times over the years. The cost is the biggest problem being so ridiculously high. Part of the attraction is the travel in the helicopter, would not want fancy seats, drinks etc. St Marys airport is lovely and the advertising for day trips and holidays is plentiful in cornwall. The problem is simply the flights cost

  19. Chris August 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I heartily concur with the two above comments! Paying for an ‘expert’ will be a wast of council funds. Current fares are well beyond the threshold of pain for many of our visitors and residents.

  20. Graham Parker August 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Having just spent £750+ for my family of five to fly from Newquay, and wondering how I can afford it next time, it’s not rocket science…..

  21. Nigel August 26, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    The facilities are not the problem they are fit for purpose. What would increase passengers through the airport on Scilly will be cheaper airfares and that it! We don’t need in flight drinks and snacks nor do we require comfortable seating whilst we wait for flights. Why not increase the number of flights in peak season, dare I say throw in a Sunday service!
    I have noticed the fall in visitors not at the airport but down at the Quay for the boats to the off-islands!