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.


8 Responses to Helicopter Pullout: Steamship Company Confident They Can Meet Demand

  1. Lawrence Upton August 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    DaveH is prepared to pay 5.5k for his holiday on Scilly. Good for him if he’s got it. Many do not. It’s not a question of whether or not it is worth it if one does not have that kind of money. I dispute his contention that “obviously” it costs that much. A commercial operation charges what the market will bear, not necessarily what it costs. I imagine BIH, facing replacement of expensive helicopters, have calculated that they can make more from investments elsewhere. Thus, it has little to do with actual costs in one place but relative returns in many.

  2. Andy Valente August 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    We all know Scilly costs more. Whether it be getting there or living there. Notice I said ‘costs’. It’s not because someone’s making a big profit, There will always be a cheaper option. People will often make their decisions based purely on cost… which is why those supermarkets are all over the place. 😉

  3. Peter Corbett August 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Good point Tony but don’t forget that if anyone is looking at coming to Scilly for the first time the cost of transport could well put them off. OK they might miss out on the unique attraction of the islands but unless the cost of transport, by both air and sea, is significantly reduced, then it’s likely they and hundreds, maybe thousands of others, will end up in Portugal (or anywhere else you could name) and not Scilly.

    The cost of transport won’t put us off coming over twice a year but….!

  4. Tony Cherry August 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Unfortunately if you fly to Portugal, you end up in Portugal. Fly to Scilly and you’re in Scilly. QED for many of us.

    • DaveH August 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

      I think that Peter was alluding to the cost of flying to Scilly and the percieved value. A flight to portugal is 3? 4? hours? and costs £142, my flight to Scilly this year is £160 and lasts 20minutes… therefore the flight to scilly is percieved to be vastly more expensive, also Scilly is in the UK and surely it doesnt cost that much to travel to somewhere in the UK??? well obviously it does but thats the reaction most people will come up with when told where we are going and how much it is. My holiday to Scilly is will cost me about £5.5k (includes all accom, travel, food, spending etc) this year for 2 weeks, where could I go in the world and what could I do for that? So you see Scilly does have a cost issue, for some of us its worth it though or I wouldnt be well into double figure visits.

  5. sue August 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    It’s all very well putting boat fares on at £21 for Islanders, but during the Summer the majority of Islanders work all season and cannot get away to make use of these offers. What happens in the Winter when there is no boat option? Are they going to transfer a similar reduction to flights for Travel Club members?
    I quite agree with Peter, costs need to come down for visitors as well or there will be very limited numbers visiting the Islands and a huge problem for businesses.

    • Truan August 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      The Travel Club already does offer reduced airfares all year round, plus the option to get standby fares the afternoon before at not much more than the boat fare.

  6. Peter Corbett August 2, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’m glad residents have the option of using the Scillonian for £21.00 but what about visitors. The cost of getting to Scilly is already astronomical (my wife have flown to Portugal for less than it costs to fly from PZ or Lands End) and I fear that unless something is done to address this challenge, Scilly will become a holiday backwater (maybe even a stagnant pond).