Steamship Company Outlines Investment Plans

Skybus Twin Otters at St Mary’s Airport

There will be an extra aircraft serving the islands and Sunday sailings of the Scillonian III next year.

Those are just two developments outlined by Steamship Company chief executive, Jeff Marston, to members at Thursday’s Transport Committee.

We caught up with Jeff after the meeting to discuss the Steamship Company’s strategy.

Jeff described the measures his company was taking to meet demand following the demise of the helicopter service, and insisted that while they were currently the sole operators on both the air and sea routes, they were not a monopoly and there was no barrier to other carriers entering the market,

He was also open to other operators flying out of Land’s End, as long as they had the ability to pay, and said they’d spoken to several companies recently about a possible helicopter service from the site.

And he reiterated that they received no subsidy for their passenger service and they needed to make enough money to ensure they could invest in new infrastructure in the future.

From Radio Scilly

Jeff Marston talks to Radio Scilly about his company’s plans

He said the company had made significant investment decisions over the past year.

They’ve obtained a fourth Twin Otter aircraft, which is currently in Calgary, Canada, being refitted to meet European specs. They’re also planning to extend the working day of their other three Twin Otters and are taking on a further 10 air crew to fly them.

They’ll be fitting the EGNOS navigation system to all their aircraft, at a cost of £140,000 and installing the necessary equipment at Land’s End. St Mary’s airport is hoping to have this too, as part of their refurbishment project, and it should increase the poor-weather ability of the aircraft.

Steamship Company CEO, Jeff Marston (right) with Chairman Andrew May

Jeff says they intend to start flying three times a day to Exeter in the summer season and this could rise to fives times a day if there’s demand. He said there could be winter flights to that airport next year too, although they’re unlikely to be daily.

Land’s End is being upgraded to a category 3 airport, like St Mary’s, but this means they’ve had to hire and train a further six full time fire officers at a cost of £120,000.

That’s on top of the cost of rebuilding the terminal and control tower there, and improving car-parking facilities.

Jeff said they’ve spent over £2m refurbishing the Scillonian III, the Gry Maritha and the Lyonesse Lady to extend the life of each ship by at least a further five years.

The Scillonian is expected to leave dry dock in Penzance on December 18th and will now meet EU Class B regulations with a licensed capacity for 450 people. That’s lower than the previous UK Class III certificate, which allowed up to 600 passengers to be carried, but placed an extra restriction on sailing in poor weather.

The Scillonian will sail ‘ten or twelve times’ on Sundays during next year’s season although Jeff ruled out winter sailing because of the cost involved. He said last time it ran  in winter they only carried an average of nine passengers per crossing.

Jeff said the Steamship Company is not a public service provider and they don’t have unlimited resources. But he says they are in close dialogue with the Council over their plans and insists nothing has been ruled out.


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