BIH Won’t Reconsider Helicopter Pull-Out

British International has confirmed that, despite Tesco dropping their judicial review, their service to Scilly will end on November 1st.

The supermarket giant said it had received assurances that British International would continue from another Cornish site after the sale of the site to Sainsbury’s if legal challenges to the planning permission were abandoned.

Tesco community director Michael Kissman told Radio Scilly yesterday that the supermarket’s board had received a letter dated August 17th saying this, from BIH Chairman Peter Shawyer.

That decision brought a positive response from our Council. They issued a press release outlining their hope that the service could be saved.

But that hope was dashed at 6pm when BIH responded with their view that Charlie Cartwright’s remaining objection would not be removed in a short enough timeframe, despite great efforts by a number of people.

BIH say they have spent considerable time and money seeking to continue to maintain the route and they now need to focus on the future of the company without the route to Scilly.

MP Andrew George wants BIH to agree to a few more days of negotiation to see if Charlie Cartwright’s objection can be negotiated away. Andrew says he can see a solution and hopes people are prepared to do what it takes to find a way through.

But he said BIH could be “pulling the plug” in a way that will raise eyebrows about what is really motivating them.

Andrew says if BIH are “running away from the route,” there may be other operators who are be prepared to run the service from an alternative site.

Opinion about BIH’s intentions on Radio Scilly’s Facebook page are mixed. Some people felt they were determined to find another site, nearby in Penzance, after a short relocation to Newquay.

However, some islanders felt this has given them the excuse to make a lucrative land sale with no on-going commitment.

Andrew says he understands the differing views.

The BIH statement offers a glimmer of hope. They say they are in talks with other interested parties and Andrew says there are benefits for any potential operator talking with Tony Jones and his team, but as the site and heliport would be unlikely to be part of the deal, they could just talk to the local landowner who was in discussion over a future heliport base nearby.

Jeff Marston of the Steamship Company says his team has met every week to develop their contingency plan. With all the work that has been undertaken in trying to save the helicopter, they have been waiting to hear whether there will be a service in 2013.

They intend to release schedules and prices for their routes in September so accommodation providers can inform their guests.


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