Breaking News: BIH To Continue Withdrawal Of Helicopters

Penzance heliport

British international Helicopters have just issued a statement saying they intend to continue with their withdrawal from the Penzance to Scilly helicopter route.

This follows an announcement from Tesco earlier today that they would be dropping their judicial review into the planning permission for a Sainsbury’s superstore on the heliport site. Tesco said they had a letter of assurance from BIH that if all judicial reviews were dropped, they would commit to continue the helicopter service.

But this evening, BIH have said that between the 14th and 17th August it “became clear that the remaining legal challenge would not be removed within a suitably short timeframe despite great efforts by a number of people.”

They say that, as not all legal challenges have been removed, BIH, “have no alternative but to pursue another course of action. This course is to cease the passenger service from 1 November 2012.”

BIH say they have spent considerable time and money seeking to continue to maintain the route and they now have to focus on the future of the company without the route to the Isles of Scilly. BIH add they will continue to talk to other potential operators for the route.


14 Responses to Breaking News: BIH To Continue Withdrawal Of Helicopters

  1. Bill Hiner August 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Steve Att

    I never said or demanded that the council should do something. It may be in all our interests that the council has as little say in this matter as possible, beyond any statutory duties it may have regarding travel links to the islands. A business has to make money to survive and I cannot believe that even someone with Richard Branson’s expertise would risk tens of millions of pounds (perhaps hundreds) just get the link back.
    I think a good starting point would be to assume that the helicopters are finished. Ideas for alternatives must be brought to the table and costed. There may not be any which are affordable, and we, as resilient folk will have to adapt.
    As for government subsidies, they have just borrowed about £600 million and it seems inconceivable that they will put their hand in their pocket. They may just provide costs for medical flights etc.
    From our visitors’ point of view, II think it essential that they feel confident that we can provide alternative ways to get them here. Without these lovely people coming, all talk of transport links is meaningless. They are our lifeblood, and I feel our priority is to keep them involved.

    • Adam Morton,St.Martins August 24, 2012 at 2:24 am

      I wouldnt be too quick to discount rotary wing as an option,yes the costs of running are reputedly prohibitive but do we actually have any figures?secondly the cost of a heliport is much less than a run way I believe (example tresco) I dont know but I would say that putting a runway on stilts over the sea might be more expensive than a new chopper preferably built this centuary.Sea planes? I should imagine would cause safety issues with boating.A fleet of twin otters?hm somones already doing that and arn’t likely to share their airfield.The Governments still spending plenty on more wacky projects so if we can show we are doing our bit im sure there could be a new aircraft in it if it could be shown to be of communal not private benifit.I would like to say a new fast boat with more frequent service is the answer but with the IOSSco there already with a lot of local interest involved and planning no change ,two boats just wont have the trade.There is just too many unknowns perhaps rather than wasting money on consutants and surveys which they then ignor our council could find out some facts and put them up to be disputed then we would at least have a starting point.This is what one may have presumed they have bin doing for the last fifteen years since it was announced that the Boat and Helicopter needed replacing.Personally I should think the government is more likely to assist aquiring assets like planes and boats as a one off rather than subsidising us at millions per year and I must admit I’d feel better too.Its obveouse that its going to be a lot easier for a business that just has to break even rather than to make repayments or dividends .The only example I have found is pentland ferries private owned unsubsidised catamaran ferry which does a fifteen mile trip for £14 single and £33 for a car or 6m caravan the boat apparantly cost 10-15 million and presumably he’s still making money .I cant find any symilar air service situations or info on price of aircraft except that it appears to be based on the service life of the components ,havnt tried an insurance quote!!! I dont imagine there will be no way for people to get here,the scillonian usually does the trips when BIH is technical anyway ,its more a convenience issue than an expence to a lot of time sharers and hotel residents I should think.

  2. Adam Morton,St.Martins August 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I dont think its up to any of us to say that some investors can make money and others cant if BIH say its not making enough then fair enough the public only have the right to be annoyed when its tax payers money at stake.Pehaps we should take this opportunity to ask the government to fund a not for proffit public service responcible for covering only its staff & running costs presumably thers pilots and ground crew available at the moment that wont be when they have to find other jobs? Im sure thers enough busineses in scilly and penzance that would chip in for a field somwhere close by for a heliport and car park in return for free advertising and the value of the plot should it be sold.Thers got to be land somwhere between penzance and lands end and a farmer thats willing surly and if thers 70000 passengers a year and they pay £50 each way thats 3.5 million which ought to pay for a fair bit of fuel,maintainence and staff wages?I’l addmit i dont know the first thing about helicopters but surly thers somone out ther who does like the mechanics at the PZ heliport?worth an ask.One things for sure by the time the councils transport committees finished pontificating therl be nothing left.

  3. Rod and Kate August 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Bring on the BRANSON!!

  4. Steve Att August 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Bill, Ritchie – Rather than demand the council do something! Try suggesting something then try costing it then divide by the number of council tax payers to see if it can be funded. The council is made up of volunteers from the local community they are directly affected too. I am sure the councillors and council officers are trying to do something but need to get hold of funding to do it. Scilly is in a bad place now but it may sink deeper until people who do not visit, or live there realise it. At the momement for most of whitehall it is somebody elses problem.

    • Adam Morton,St.Martins August 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      In fairness those on the council are the ones that have access to all the facts and figures or should do and what on earth are we paying a CE and HODs 80.000-110.000 a year for if not to be fighting our corner at white hall and if it comes down to our population numbers jusifying the expence what about their positions a full council on full time wages for 2.000 people is no less ludicrouse.

  5. Stavropol August 23, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Oh and I think we should define not profitable further. It doesn’t mean the service makes a loss, it just means the private equity that owns BIH feel they do not receive enough return on the money they have input into the business.
    It’s been going 40 odd years, the fundamentals haven’t changed that much, but the expectations of shareholders have, in this current recession.

  6. Stavropol August 23, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Quite right, forget BIH, move on, their shareholders have made the move, they want a better return on their investment than the islands can offer. The land is worth lots so it’s a nice sweet goodbye for them.
    Start looking for for new ways to get people to Scilly.

  7. ritchie August 23, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Well said Bill. We Islanders feel badly let down by our local governance who are absolutely not on the ball and should have been discussing plan b c and d three years ago. I am personaly embarrassed by some of the comments made by “locals” on line – somewhat childish and pathetic. Scilly is in a bad place right now and our council need to something pretty radical and constructive very quickly to gain any credibility with the populus.

  8. Heather August 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I totally agree with everything John says. Will someone please contact Richard Branson? With his previous connections to Scilly (some 30 years ago) I truly believe he is the one person who could save this vital service, and, moreover, make it a viable concern. Bring him on!

  9. Bill Hiner August 22, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I’m only surprised at people’s surprise that the helicopters are being withdrawn! It’s been the talk of the islands since 2005. Plan B should have been prepared long ago when it was obvious that BIH found the route non-profitable. Surely a contingency plan was thought of?
    An all-year-round boat and bigger fixed-wing aircraft seem to be sensible alternatives.
    No business can run at a loss, and BIH are no different. As for loyalty to the good people of the Isles of Scilly, well It’s time to wake up and smell the roses because loyalty does not pay the fuel/crew/maitenance/insurance fees et al.
    Let’s think of alternatives.

  10. John August 22, 2012 at 10:47 am

    It’s patently obvious to even the least cynical observer that BIH have absolutely no intention or desire to continue the service and have not done so for some time. The Tesco judicial review situation was a simple smokescreen which, now this has been withdrawn reveals their bluff as clear as day. Here’s to the monopoly of the ISSC and the inexorable rise in fares. Thanks.

  11. Gordon Bilsborough August 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    In order to demonstrate its undoubted sincerity, I would like BIH to give an undertaking to settle all outstanding invoices due to the Isles of Scilly Council without having to be chased after it has left us. Please don’t think I’m being cynical!
    Gordon Bilsborough

  12. Jane Hurd August 21, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    OK So I challenge the other 2 objectors to withdraw & call BIH’s bluff; like many others, I always thought they intended to pull out when they found someone else to “blame”.