MP To Ask Prime Minister For Scilly Transport Assistance

Scilly’s MP, Andrew George

Local MP, Andrew George, will today ask the Prime Minister for assistance to help find a solution to the transport problems created following the closure of the helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly at the end of October.

He will point out that the helicopter service provided a lifeline for the islands and its closure has presented many challenges for islanders, medical services and the economy.

But Andrew will also highlight that local people and stakeholders, including the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, are determined to find solutions.

Mr George himself has called together a group of stakeholders to explore whether it might be possible to resurrect a new helicopter service for the Islands running from the Penzance area.

Mr George says if the Scillies were linked by a 28 mile sliver of land, the Government would have built an expensive road to the place and be expected to maintain it. As it’s separated by water they don’t have to.

And he says since the service stopped last month, there have been many days when the primary air link between St Mary’s and Land’s End was inoperable.

“The islanders cannot solve this one on their own and nor can Cornwall Council just step in,” says Andrew. “It will need Government support.”

He’s asked the Prime Minister for help because he says a favourable word from above can “move blockages in the system.”

As many people face challenging plans for their travel to get home to see family at this time of year, he says he hopes that Ministers will appreciate that Scillonians face some of the greatest challenges of all.”


16 Responses to MP To Ask Prime Minister For Scilly Transport Assistance

  1. peter December 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    what the steamship need is their own staff and check in procedures so the passengers can avoid the farse that is security and customs.

    At newquay that is

  2. peter December 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    ” but has anyone explored the possibility of either Culdrose or Predannack Airfields?”

    have you ever driven to culdrose ? its more out of the way than lands end ..

    what the steamship need is their own staff and check in procedures so the passengers can avoid the farse that is security and customs.

    they own lands end its a better business model to fly there as its nearer to the scillies and so cheaper and faster so more flights can be put up dependant on demand.
    foggy days happen nothing flys in thick fog.
    hopefully with runway hardening will come the gps landing system and better lighting to allow skybus to fly at reduced levels.

    as to an all round year ship…its not cost effective 9 people per trip when she did..
    if it wasnt foggy how many would use the ship ?
    my thoughts are 2 ships : ferry for summer use only and a new freight ship that is a little quicker but carries more passengers in relative comfort than the fantastic hard working Gry ie 25 people .that way you still have a 3x a week sea service at worse case for islanders needing to travel.
    the only reason the sc3 is able to carry on and is in relatively good nick is because she is laid up in the winter so avioding the worst of the poundings the Gry gets,

  3. Greg December 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Alex, I think the UK CAA also require a fire crew for helicopters, being a turbine engine, another reason why they are so expensive to run. I agree that the aircraft you suggested are a better option than the Twin Otter and islander but the problem still remains… The dreaded fog and rain! Only a helicopter can handle these weather conditions (to a certain extent) with the current navigational aids at Lands end and St. Mary’s. I know Lands End are looking into hardening their runway but money must be spent on both ends to improve reduced visibility landings, such as ILS. The only problem with ILS is that it’s a bloody eye sore for areas like Scilly and the runway ends into either the sea, residential areas or farmer’s fields.

  4. Andy Forest December 19, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I agree with Alec – Andrew George had the chance to back the islands and Penzance by supporting the quay development there, but he didn’t and now he’s left it too late with the helicopter too. I can’t see anyone coming in to resurrect a helicopter service now, as I understand it both the IoSS Co and Tresco have looked in to it and felt that it isn’t practical as the costs are too high (just as BIH found out).

  5. Alex Fenlon December 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm


    I agree with you reference single engine ops! I fly aircraft so i can understand!!!!

    The problem is i beleive that the UK CAA insist on having a two man crew for Multi Engine Ops on Turbo props. Obviously on the Islander there isn’tma requirement as its piston.

    The other option of course is the Trislander. Three engines instead of one or two, 18 seater, stol and its hourly running costs are the best in its class!

    I agree though you do have a problem on your hands. However look at other operators accross the world, they run caravans accross the carribean (st barths commuter for example) and they are doing a sterling trade.

    The twin otter i agreed is a sterling aircraft, but with the short flight times between say scilly and newquay, the cycle times on the PT6 would soon mount up i imagine and a overhaul costs about £150k!!!

    I am willing to share what I have learnt with others to come up with a solution!!!!!!

  6. Steve December 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    What about direct flights from Cardiff? I suspect this could open up a whole new market for the Islands

  7. Alec hicks December 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I think mr George missed the boat the last time they had chance, he did not back the islands then because of a few in Penzance who did not want the new quay and new boat link, the problem could still be solved by the steamship co by running Scillonian 111 all year round,

    • Steven December 20, 2012 at 10:04 am

      I really don’t think a year round ship, which almost nobody wants to use in the winter, will solve things.

      Day medical and business appointments are completely impossible using a ship and may even require as long as two nights away.

  8. Greg December 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I once pondered over the feasibility of a Cessna Grand Caravan to make the crossing between the IOS and the mainland but there were two major issues with this:

    1. Redundancy. The Cessna Grand Caravan only has one turbo prop engine, so flying over a stretch of water is a big ‘no no’ for commercial based airlines carrying passengers. Also take off and landing is one of the most dangerous parts of flying. I for one wouldn’t like to be in a plane hurtling down runway 15 on St. Mary’s when the only engine packs in!#

    2. Altitude. Because Skybus usually operates between 1000 and 1500 feet, there is isn’t much margin of error if, again, the only engine packs in. If one engine out of the two fails you can still cruise to your destination.

    These two points, plus the fact that the Cessna can only carry 11 persons, makes the Twin Otter the better plane for the job.

  9. Ted December 19, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    The Prime Minister is now involved.
    Thankyou Andrew George MP.

  10. Vaughan & Svetlana Ashby December 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I join the debate as the operator of a Birdtour company who brings clients to the islands every October. Perranporth Airfield is of course slightly closer than Newquay but has anyone explored the possibility of either Culdrose or Predannack Airfields on the Lizard peninsula, both of which are much closer to Scilly than Newquay/Perranporth. I know both are under the control of the Royal Navy but surely with the downsizing of our military forces they need to be put to much better use? This of course, may have already be discussed but I’ve not seen any mention of it.

  11. Alex Fenlon December 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Its quite simple really. Have a flight operated by a Cessna Caravan Aircraft. With its stol performance it could easily fly from the scillies to an airport in the west midlands (say Wolverhampton) with a ten minute stop off at say exeter or newquay. I’ve costed the idea and tickets could cost at little as £130 fro, EGHE to Wolverhampton including baggage. The idea is there, it just needs capital. The helicopter idea is brilliant but with a small agusta 109 helicopter costing £1000 an hour to run, ticket prices would be in the region of £140 for an hour flight!! They cruise at 150kts ish but dont have the baggage capacity. I’m up for helping people!!!

    • Nobby Nobbs December 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      I want to go to Truro, not Wolverhampton?

    • RogerP December 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      The Cessna Caravan is a great aircraft but is single engine only and not allowed to be used for public transport over water. In the event of an engine failiure over water it must be able to glide to land. Departing off the St Marys means it is immediately illegal after take off. With regards to Perranporth the airport suffers as much as Lands End with fog and also is unlicensed so cannot be used for Public Transport.

  12. Nobby Nobbs December 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    You might not like the wibberal party for all they’re broken promises, but you have to hand it to Andrew George he does work his socks off on behalf of his constituents and especially on behalf of the islands. And when you consider that he can only ever hope to get around 1500 votes from the islands when his time could be better spent working for the 150,000 votes on the mainland, I take my hat off to the man. And I think the islands owe him a big debt of gratitude for all his hard work and effort on our behalf.

    Personally I think the solution lies here
    Closer to Truro without the hassle of Newquay
    Three runways so no crosswind problems
    No water logging, less fog issues
    What are we waiting for?

  13. Ralph December 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Very good point about the 28 mile of road, the Government would have to maintain, maybe Mrs Frist should adopt that.