Airport Reserves Decreasing Rapidly

St Mary’s Airport is rapidly eating into its reserve cash.

Members at yesterday’s Transport Committee meeting were told that the airport will lose £145,000 by the end of this financial year, which will need to be drawn from the airport reserves.

But there was only £183,000 in that ring-fenced airport account at the start of 2012. Once the reserves are gone, further money for the airport will need to come from the Council’s budget.

Last year, councillors voted for a lower-than-inflation increase in landing charges, even though they were warned this would put significant pressure on the reserves.

Members also voted to delay setting landing charges at St Mary’s airport until February.

The fees have traditionally been decided in October, to allow transport operators to adjust their fares for the following season.

But Airport Operations Officer, Howard Cole, said there was still considerable uncertainty over numbers and sole operator Skybus had already set their fares anyway.

Howard said passenger numbers this year were down 15% on 2011 and there was no reason to believe this would change in 2013.

He said the airport needs to set its charges to ensure its reserves are sufficient for future infrastructure projects and repairs, like resurfacing the runway.

Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith said it was sensible to defer the decision. In February, he’d be able to say more accurately how many people will be visiting Tresco.

Many visitors will now be travelling through St Mary’s rather than taking the former helicopter route direct to the island.


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