Helicopter Pullout: Steamship Company Confident They Can Meet Demand

Steamship Company Chairman, Andrew May, has said he is confident that his company will cope with any extra demand caused by the withdrawal of BIH from the helicopter routes.

Andrew said he was saddened and disappointed to hear BIH’s announcement yesterday. He said the Steamship Company “wasn’t anticipating or wishing for it at all.”

Andrew said the helicopter service has “been a part of my life” and he says he remembers the first flights back in his childhood in the 60s. “It’s a very poignant day,” he said.

The Steamship Company are still considering their response to the news. But Andrew says he believes the SkyBus fleet will be able to meet the demand this winter. They will also be reviewing plans to introduce a winter service to Exeter.

From Radio Scilly

Listen to our interview with Andrew May

However, he says summer 2013 is a completely different question. On the assumption that another operator doesn’t enter the route, Andrew says the Steamship Company is committed to pick up the capacity and respond to islanders’ and visitors’ needs.

He says they’ve worked “in constructive competition” with BIH over the years and if there was new competition on the route, they would embrace that adding that it will be a real challenge to operate in a market that is actually less competitive than it was.

They’ll also be planning for any potential upturn in visitor numbers next year as well as known spikes in travel such as for Gig weekend.

And on the subject of the company now having a monopoly on air and sea routes to the islands, Andrew says, “you only have look at the track record and ethos of the company.”

He says they’ve had a monopoly on the sea route for much of the 90-year history of the company and he feels they’re doing a good job on passengers and freight there.

Andrew says the company is “island owned and island operated” and they “know what makes them tick.” He added it was in both the company’s interest as well as that of the islands to get this right.

Andrew says he’s aware of debate about the lifeline designation of the service and the calls by some for a public service obligation on the route, similar to those in Scotland.

He says they didn’t initiate that debate but they’re open to engaging with the Council on this.

But he says independently of that, the company operates a travel club for local people, who can now travel on the Scillonian III for £21 return. Andrew says they listened to the local community and provided a regular, cheap means of travel to the mainland.

Andrew says they’re also looking at their options for year-round sailing of the Scillonian III. However, the company recently announced that the boat would continue in service to 2018 and that will require a considerable schedule of refurbishment work over the next two winters, which presents a challenge for winter sailing.

 



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