Sunday Airport Opening Discussed By Councillors

The Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council says we need to consider opening the airport on Sundays to generate more income.

Mike Hicks made the statement at Thursday’s Planning meeting, during a discussion on plans for St Mary’s airport.

Strategic Investment Manager Diana Mompoloki had told Members that she expected to appoint a company to come up with a detailed design for the works, including the runway and terminal building, as well as hire a project manager, by the end of September.

She said this work was the highest priority for her department as, “we can’t operate without a runway” and there is a narrow time window to access the European funds available.

She said it’s going to be a complex project, requiring the airport to be kept open throughout the work.

Diana said passenger numbers were down 16% on the year, and she said the St Mary’s Boatmen had seen a 40% drop in ticket sales and accommodation occupancy was down a further 5%.

She said we “have to face up to that and not assume it’s just the general economic climate.”

“We have to work out how to make the tourism sector work better” she added.

But Council Chair, Mike Hicks, said we’re planning to put a large amount of money into the airport and none of it is going to raise extra income.

He said Sunday flying had to be part of the development plan and the Council needed to consult with residents, businesses and the operators now, rather than leave it until the work was finished.

Vice Chair of Council, Amanda Martin, agreed saying, “we sometimes talk about the smaller things, rather than the really big issues like Sunday opening.” She said this could make a big difference to our visitors.

Councillor Chris Savill said she felt the mood was changing.

Three years ago, during a tourism consultation, businesspeople on the islands had already started asking for Sunday flying and she felt the case was even stronger now, with a weakening in the economic climate.


23 Responses to Sunday Airport Opening Discussed By Councillors

  1. DaveH July 24, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I dont actually see the point in sunday flying. I cant see how it would increase visitor number significantly enough to justify it… anyway as a regular visitor to scilly I can see why people dont come, and I think its only 25% based on cost, the other 75% is the type of holiday that Scilly provides. Its a quiet, family holiday that probably doesnt appeal to a mass market, its more a “boutique” holiday if I can use that word. The cost is high… both for accomadation and when you arrive, this year is costing me about £4000 for 2 weeks self catering, and thats without spending money, food costs etc but then you pay for quality and I believe Scilly provides that. I do think that its expensive when I get there, the inter island boats do cost a fair bit, eating out is not cheap, mainly due to a lack of “pub grubby” type places to go (a real gap in the market imho) When you add in spending money my 2 weeks will end up costing me around £5.5k, In comparison I have just booked a week in lanzarote for less than £2k in a 5 star hotel and its all inclusive (2weeks would be £2.7k)

    You have a finite space on scilly so you need to weigh up a few people paying lots or more people paying less… too many people and you will drive away the regulars as they struggle to get accomadation, which is hard enough as it is, I fear the day I cant come one year and am unable to find somewhere to stay with my requirements the following year.

    I guess what I am trying to get at is, find the balance, I dont know what that is, if I did I would have applied for and got the tourism managers job 😉 but its worth thinking really hard about how to sell Scilly in the right way to the right people, but also take into account the recession is happening and compare your numbers to the rest of the worlds holiday numbers I imagine you will find a fairly similar trend across the board for a drop in figures….

    A long and rambly post… apologies and Ill see you soon

  2. Nigel July 24, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Few people will extend their holiday forward by one day to arrive on Sunday. Many people will reduce their holiday by one day to leave on Sunday to get back to work on Monday. One day less for them to spend on boat trips, evening meals and accommodation. Extra cost of keeping airport open, fire service, counter staff, baggage staff, etc. Will the cafe wish to have their rest day taken to ensure customers have a cup of tea? Planes will be coming in virtually empty so that planes can be available to take people back on Sunday afternoon.

    There is spare capacity in the islands for accommodation etc and on existing flights from Monday to Friday. The answer surely is to fill existing capacity at no added overhead.

  3. IanT. July 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Ref. businesses closed when cruise ships arrive… I hope none of them are complaining about a poor season…!! There have always been some that opened just for the season and never on a Sunday. Tourism in the 21st century is a seven day a week job. Yes, it’s tough opening seven days a week throughout the year but if you want to provide a service, especially to the locals, that is what you do. As some islanders used to say ‘if my money is not good enough for you in the winter then don’t expect it in the summer’.

  4. Ian July 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    It would be a much better idea to fill all those empty travel spaces with drastically reduced day tripper prices – get people over – they will see how good it is and return for a longer stay.

  5. Todd Stevens July 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Change overs on a Sunday- Oh Joy!!

    Sorry but I dont think its necessary. I just dont see people saying “Oh, theres sunday flying on Scilly-lets go there” Get real. Keep the islands as they are. The problem is called- recession.

  6. Ian July 23, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    It’s not just the flights, but the associated traffic and hubub created on a normal day by the various carriers – we continue to get criticised for the amount of traffic by visitors – it’s usually very quiet on Sundays + between Nov & March. I find it difficult to believe there is a ‘weekend’ market other than perhaps the Tresco ‘lot’, who have wanted Sunday flights in the past. Grasping at straws I think here ! Lets face it when many 100s come aboard from cruise ships on a Sunday many businesses remain closed. It’s the excessive cost of flights/boat that eventually stop people coming however much you try to pretend it is otherwise.

  7. JeffEastick July 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I can see no problem with Sunday flights with regard to noise as this is part and parcel of a holiday in Scilly , and if it meant a more viable Scilly then I would be all for it . However , with current return flights from Southampton over £300 , I still think cost will be the main obstacle in getting people over for long weekends , but if it helps to revitalise the tourist economy then I would say ‘ try it and see’.

  8. Jonny July 23, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Jeff, I think the point is that Sunday flying will open up the weekend market – those people who want to pop over for the weekend and be back in the office by Monday morning. The traditional 7 or 14 day holiday is starting to die out, especially for the Home Counties-based, wealthy ‘ABC1’s’ that Scilly is supposed to be attracting.

    • Katie F July 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Sorry, should have read this before. Yep, exactly my point, Jonny. It would also mean that people from Scilly could get away for a weekend or even a Saturday night without having to take a great deal of time off which would be good for the economy and locals’ wallets as well!

  9. JeffEastick July 22, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Apart from helping those travellers stranded by bad weather on a Saturday , and getting Sunday papers on a Sunday , I can see little that is to be gained by Sunday flying. As a regular visitor for many years , it appears that cost of travel and staying on Scilly is keeping all but the regular visitors away. Younger visitors are few and far between. We had two younger families staying at our Guest house on the visit from which we have just returned. Both loved the Islands and want to return , but doubt whether it will be next year because of the cost involved. We always visit in July so would expect the majority of visitors to be of the older generation , as bringing children out of term time is so difficult these days. I would expect August visitor numbers to show somewhat of an increase on figures previously quoted but Scilly needs to attract a younger proportion of couples than it currently receives and cost of transport and places to stay and eat are obstacles to this. This does not mean introducing ‘entertainment’ that goes against the tranquil beauty of the Islands ,which is the prime reason regulars like us visit every year. The problem is all down to the cost versus other locations and ease of access , which Sunday flying will do nothing to alleviate.

    • Katie F July 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      I beg to differ, Jeff. Whilst I agree that the Sunday flying will change the peace and quiet of Sunday’s on Scilly, I think availability of Sunday flights (even if it was limited) may well appeal to young people. When I was trying to get back for holidays on Scilly before moving here, it was often an issue that I couldn’t get a full week on Scilly without taking more than a week off work. The lack of Sunday flights also means that people with children can’t come over, for example, half term without taking some time off school either before or after the break. It’s not necessarily a panacea but I think that there are a lot of young professionals and young families this would appeal to and it should definitely be investigated. It would of course also make it possible, should the outgoing flights exist from places further up country, for working couples to come down for two night weekend breaks…

  10. Al July 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Is not saving the Helicopter service the first priority which at the moment seems doomed. Sunday ops will only disturb the peace for little, if any gain.

  11. linda July 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Having just read back issues of the Scillonian Magazine going back to 1974 the issues are similar now as to then, transport and accomodation costs. Whilst the travel costs have increased considerably including landing fees, accommodation is on a par with the mainland, whilst here travel to the off islands compares well with mainland fares.Whilst queing in the Coop I overheard a visitor saying the price of food was more that the mainland, of course it is we have freight charges.
    The Islands need assistance from the powers that be to bring down the cost of travel to and from Scilly, urgently

    • Katie F July 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Hmmm…. not entirely sure I agree with this. MOST B and B accommodation on Scilly is comparable but some are charging a huge amount more than the ‘going rate’ in comparable mainland establishments. Travel on the boats between the islands is considerably more expensive than mainland travel though – probably why there’s a 40% drop?

      • Steve G July 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        I think most of the B&Bs on the Islands offer very good value for money given the price of property on the Islands. People have to make a living – if the property is expensive then the costs will obviously be greater.

        And I’m pretty sure that the weather is by far the largest reason for the drop in boat travel.

      • Kastri July 23, 2012 at 9:06 pm

        Agree – the inter island boats also price themselves out – may day trippers who have to watch their spend simply opt to stay in st Mary’s. There are simply economics here but hopefully one day soon someone will realise and the numbers will increase.

  12. Steven G July 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Will Sunday flights actually increase the number of visitors or simple spread the same visitors over 7 days rather than 6?

  13. Stuart July 22, 2012 at 9:19 am

    If you live on the mainland you can get a three night stay in a three star hotel in any European city INCLUDING the flights for the cost a chopper ticket to the Scilly Isles.
    And when you get there, there’s so much more to do and see and you don’t feel like your being ripped off, so why would you choose to come to the Scilly Island when you could go to Rome, Viennese, Barcelona Madrid, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, Budapest, Dublin etc for less?

    • Todd Stevens July 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      We got robbed in Rome and the queue of others like us came out of the police station and down the road. A coffee was over £5 and accomodation twice as expensive as the UK. B&B’s here are comparable with the mainland.
      We almost got robbed in China too and found ourselves in the middle of a dangerous situation in Seville. Theres not one country I have been to where you can leave things lying around or unattended. Scilly is safe and crime free. You also hard pushed to find anywhere as beautiful as here-in my opinion.

  14. coldwell July 22, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Time to get the banners out – “No sunday flights for Scilly”

  15. Kastri July 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Sadly I think there is something being missed here on the strategy of increasing footfall to this great place. 40% is huge of course and that is difficult for the boatmen. 16% visitor numbers cannot be overlooked – Sadly the islands are pricing themselves out of the fluid tourism market. When it cost so much to travel to the islands and significant figure to stay, people will always opt for another venue. the prices are simply too high. Those of us who will always go because of the beauty and all we know about the islands are simply not enough to sustain numbers – the figures are startling.

    New visitors have to be attracted – at the moment there are many more viable options for people – some 30% cheaper.

    Please don’t price yourself out of the market or everyone will be affected.

  16. Stuart July 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    If the runway could be lengthened to accept Embraer E-Jets like the ones used by Flybe then is would be feasible to have short haul flights to all the regional UK airports and perhaps some Europeans ones as well, if that didn’t help tourism then I don’t know what would.

    If a runway of sufficient length couldn’t be achieved on St Mary’s, then perhaps flattening a long strip of land from one end of Tresco to the other could provide the islands with a proper regional airport. The planes would bring in more custom, would offer cheaper flights to and from the islands and could be flown in fog.
    Additionally the spoil from the project could be used to make a land bridge between the islands……just a thought!

  17. Sue July 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Wouldn’t they be better off reducing the prices to visitors and get the flights filled up during the week before they ruin everyones peaceful Sundays!