MP More Confident That Helicopter Service Will Continue

Scilly’s MP says he is more confident that a helicopter service to Scilly will continue than he was last Wednesday when BIH announced the end of their operations.

Andrew George says he’s had a number of conversations with people with interest or experience in the route since then.

BIH chief executive Tony Jones told us that the ongoing service can’t be sustained but Mr George says he’s spoken to experts, some of whom know the route well, and he believes the route is financially viable.

This week, the MP will meet with Tesco chiefs at their Hertfordshire HQ to discuss their willingness to drop the judicial review action if an agreement is made to continue the service.

BIH declined to respond when we asked whether Tesco’s comments or the public response to the cessation of service affects their decision to stop the service in November.

Two additional potential legal objections remain but we understand one relates more to  previous concerns that St Erth could be used a heliport base, although it does touch on general concerns about the environment.

The other judicial review has been tabled by former Steamship Company boss, Charlie Cartwright. He also objected to the Harbour revision order, which delayed the Route Partnership plans for Penzance Harbour and which was later dismissed.

Charlie says he’s not happy that, if the BIH service were to continue, there’d be another out-of-town supermarket and a need to find another heliport site.

He says the two issues should be bundled together as the ‘total picture’ and not ‘salami-sliced’ to try and get around the legal requirement for an impact assessment.

He claims the helicopter firm has just released their ‘pot of gold’ and he hasn’t heard whether the Law Lords will entertain his objection.

Penzance Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dick Cliff doesn’t share the MP’s positivity. Dick feels it is unlikely that the route can be salvaged because helicopters are more expensive to operate than planes and will always be at a commercial disadvantage to Skybus.

And Council Chairman Mike Hicks says he is pessimistic. The BIH Chief Executive has written to him highlighting the economic problems of running the route.

Mike hopes to meet the MP and a group of Penzance business and community leaders later this week at their request, to discuss what could happen next.

Andrew George says, “No stone is being left unturned. All parties are determined to do all that they can to save this service.“

Some Radio Scilly listeners have emailed after they saw a BIH helicopter offered for sale on the internet in July. Tony Jones says they currently own five Sikorsky S-61 helicopters and they can no longer use this model for their oil and gas contracts, hence it’s surplus to requirements.

 



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