Passengers Hoping To Travel Today In Time For Christmas

Skybus Twin Otters at St Mary’s Airport

175 passengers who have been waiting all weekend to get to Scilly are hoping to be flown in today in time for Christmas.

It’s been a waiting game for some people in the hospitality business in the islands who have had a quieter weekend than expected because their visitors haven’t been able to get over.

A group of Star Castle Hotel guests has been stuck on the mainland, and around 30 people who had booked cottages on Tresco from Saturday are hoping to start their holiday today.

Some passengers even managed to arrive by private plane.

Opening St Mary’s airport on Sunday wasn’t the problem, as some staff and fire crew were prepared to go in.

Skybus says they wanted to keep all their pilots available for flying today as, on Saturday, when they made the decision to postpone flights, Sunday’s forecast looked poor.

The airline says they can cope today and accommodate everyone, with two freighters also scheduled for arrival at 9am and 11am with the mail and papers.

The Steamship Company say that they are grateful to management and staff at St Mary’s Airport and Newquay Airport for their co-operation in extending opening hours today to help people get to and from Scilly for their Christmas holidays.


15 Responses to Passengers Hoping To Travel Today In Time For Christmas

  1. Nobby Nobbs January 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I fink that the council should use every ounce of influence it has with government to get a subsidised all year round boat service.
    This would mean the route or subsidy going out to tender.
    The ISSCO could make a bid but would hopefully lose out to another company that provides a better service.

    The trouble is there are too many people in influential positions on these islands that are (or have been) on the board of directors of the ISSco, so decisions are not always made in the best interests of the islands or islanders but in the best interests of the ISSco shareholders,

    If we can get a subsidised service then whoever runs it will be running it our interests not the interests of the shareholder.

  2. Katie F January 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I have to say Cassandra that I’m now worried that perhaps you are somewhat partisan! I quote your last sentence “It’s important that FRIST lives up to its name and actually is a ‘friend’ of Isles of Scilly Travel because, like it or not, the Steamship Company for the time being at least is ‘Isles of Scilly Travel’.”

    Given that sentiment, I’d direct you to Nobby Nobbs’ comments. IF the ISSCo is providing such poor customer service, perhaps what we should all be worried about is the ISSCo remaining as ‘Isles of Scilly Travel’. Monopolies breed complacencies. That said, I will once again reiterate that I thought that the Skybus team did a great job of making the best of bad situation over Christmas, and that they deserve every commendation that’s been sent their way.

    On another note, why is it that you always single out Cllr Bennett? Not just on this topic. I’m curious as it seems that she has done something to really upset you!

  3. Nobby Nobbs January 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I was told a number of things that perhaps someone could answer for me..

    1. Sky bus runs at a loss but is subsidised by the Boat?
    2.The ISSCO don’t want a subsidised service as this would require the service going to tender and the possibility that the subsidy would be given to another company?
    3. The reason the ISSCO is not investing in a new boat or a Truro runway is because it’s scared that someone else will come along after they’ve spent the money and provide a better service?

    I personally think the service provided by the ISSCO is awful, especially when it comes to freight and billing; as an example when I did a Tesco shop the ISSCO charged me shipping and then an additional fee of £1 per box, when I challenged this, I was told it was for returning the green boxes, when I told them that I didn’t return the green boxes after a slight pause the answer was ‘it’s a handling charge because we have to sort the boxes out’. either way the ISSCO can and do charge what they like, often it would seem making it up as they go along.
    I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to query a bill only to get a ‘credit note’, not a refund. Then there are the breakages and the mysterious disappearances of goods etc etc.

    Take today for instance, no sailing so no bread in the co-op.
    We’re the only customer the ISSCO has but that’s no reason to treat us so badly
    The only reason I use the ISSCO is because I have no other choice, the service in my opinion is lousy.

  4. Cassandra December 31, 2012 at 9:17 am

    FRIST’s sole aim is to obtain taxpayers’ money to subsidise travel to the islands based on assertions made in the Council’s Scottish Islands comparative report. However, it’s been officially told on every occasion that it’s asked for money that a subsidy won’t be possible and this was confirmed in Parsons Brinckerhoff’s recent independent report on the airport which says on page 16:-

    ‘We have evaluated the potential for a PSO route and unfortunately have concluded that such a route would not be approved given that the existing routes are profitable and run without a subsidy.’

    The reason given every time for refusing a subsidy is that the route is commercially viable and therefore does not qualify for a subsidy. The basis for the claim of commercial viability being that the route is served by a profitable private business i.e. the Steamship Company. This presents FRIST with a major problem in that in order to achieve its aim it has to show that the route is not in fact commercially viable and that, for all intents and purposes, will mean it has to show that the Steamship Co., isn’t able to provide an appropriate level of service whilst remaining profitable. Consequently, in its efforts to obtain a subsidy, FRIST runs the great risk of damaging the Steamship Company’s admirable efforts to fill the gap left by BIH.

    Right now it seems to me that, on the one hand, we have FRIST running around generating a lot of attention but getting nowhere and, on the other, we have the Steamship Company quietly getting on with meeting the challenge, spending over a million on new facilities at Land’s End, a similar amount or more on another Twin Otter and recruiting 10 more staff etc.

    My great concern in all this is that once the interest and publicity surrounding FRIST starts to die down and its supporters start to drift away we’ll be left to pick-up the pieces much as we have had to do with the Council. I have to say that greatly fuelling my concern are my memories of Marion Bennett’s opposition to the original granting of a licence for scheduled services to Skybus back in the mid 1980’s. Charlie Cartwright the founding director of Skybus makes several references to this in his paper on the history of Skybus, for example in section 24.11 he writes:-

    ‘Much opposition to our proposal came from the Chairman of the Islands’ Tourism Committee, Mrs Marian Bennet. She sent a letter to all residents on her island of Bryher asking them to support her opposition to us.’

    It’s important that FRIST lives up to its name and actually is a ‘friend’ of Isles of Scilly Travel because, like it or not, the Steamship Company for the time being at least is ‘Isles of Scilly Travel’.

    • Adam Morton,St.Martins December 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      I can’t disagree with your summary of facts but remember Mr Cartwright was kicked out by the IOSSco directors and even his recent propositions completely ignored in favour of a the Rout partnerships poor value proposition. Many on the council campaigned against Sky bus not just Mrs Bennet. If we are to believe this as fact then most of the rest of Mr Cartwright’s “history” makes pretty damming comments of plenty of others within the IOSSco directorship and council. I don’t know as I was too young to take any interest in politics at the time and we had no Scilly today and so relied on hearsay put about by those in power. Personally I find much of his proposed scheme to make good sense. I think you point out very well the difficulties but are over protective of the IOSSco. In effect no one can make any suggestion or attempt at change without the criticism of company supporters. Everyone living or running a business in Scilly is completely reliant upon the good judgment and good faith of two people with large financial stakes in the only travel company. I am sorry but I don’t find that particularly reassuring. The Tourist economy was already on a downward trend. The IOSSco efforts to plug the gap whilst admirable still result in a net loss of trade overall and certainly no improvements in service which cannot reverse trends no matter how much positive commentary it gets. Personally I would like to see FRIST and the council discuss options with the company directors about actual IMPROVEMENTS and funding them. I doubt with Scilly today reporting anyone will want to be seen as the bad guys! What concerns me is there is one extra aircraft to carry 70.000 passengers, a ship with capacity reduced by 150 and with 5 years left to run and fares already at an uncompetitive rate compared with any other destination, no plan and no funding in place for a replacement vessel. I don’t doubt the IOSSco will try and carry all who book in but this is beside the point, it is those who are not coming that other businesses have to worry about. I can simply get over the cost of travel by not going; the same is unfortunately true of many potential visitors. I wondered why Sky bus refused to let BIH operate from lands end, having read the aforementioned article I can see the history & why. This goes to show that whilst fair it wasn’t in the islands interest. Can we RELEY on directors “having islander’s interests at heart and knowing what makes them tick?” well I guess we will just have to lump it and wait till no one gets anything ! Whilst I think FRISTs efforts lack any point or direction I fail to see what harm it will do the IOSSco after all they have nothing to lose. I’m not sure why we have to have an appreciation society for every time the company invests in itself, should we have one for BT, SWEB, Tesco for every time someone makes a call, turns on a light or eats? Whose fault the various messes are is immaterial. what we need is a realistic plan for changing what’s wrong that everyone can help with. Positive commentary whilst nice doesn’t change anything.

  5. Katie F December 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    No, I said that I was “concerned that [you] were trying to turn Mike’s comment into something more partisan than it is”. I did not accuse you of being partisan. I think also that we are all behind Skybus’ efforts, and I hope that my comment made it clear that I am fully supportive of the IOSS’ work over the past few weeks – but surely the system can be improved, be that through extra help for the IOSS or through the introduction of a competitor? Frankly, I don’t care either way (as long as Skybus employees don’t suffer) – I’m sure that I, like most others, are primarily concerned with knowing that myself and my family can get on and off the islands relatively securely and that the economy doesn’t suffer due to tourists being reluctant to travel to us.

    • Adam Morton,St.Martins December 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      For once I entirely agree 🙂

      • Katie F January 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm

        Only this once, Adam?! Devastating! I’ll try harder from this point on!

  6. Cassandra December 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I support Skybus in their efforts to fill the gap left by the helicopter pulling out – if that’s ‘partisan’ then I guess that’s what I am!

  7. Katie F December 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I’d just like to say that I thought Mike’s comment hit absolutely the right tone when I read it the other day; Skybus should be congratulated, but – let’s face it – getting everyone across was blimmin’ lucky and came at the end of what was, for many, an incredibly stressful weekend. I’m sure that all of the other islanders are as grateful to Skybus as my family are, but travel disruption needs to be documented so that the islands are as well-armed as possible when it comes to fighting our corner. I’m concerned that Cassandra might be trying to turn Mike’s comment into something more partisan than it is.

  8. Mike Peaker December 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm


    I suggest you look at the blog for 27 Dec on the FRIST website where you will find:

    “FRIST is campaigning for affordable, reliable, all year round lifeline transport services between Scilly and the mainland – services that all other comparable islands in the UK take for granted.”

    As you can see, FRIST defines the objective but does not specify the means of achieving it.

  9. Cassandra December 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Mike Peaker congratulates Skybus on its efforts during the recent bad weather but goes on to ask people to write to FRIST with details of the problems they experienced. Is the current aim of FRIST to obtain a subsidy for the Steamship Co., /Skybus to assist with its investment and growth plans or is its aim to encourage another (subsidised) provider into the market?

  10. Mike Peaker December 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Well done Skybus for making sure that everybody got to where they wanted to before Christmas. A great effort considering the appalling weather. And the weather over the past couple of months has shown quite starkly the fragility of the winter transport links to the islands – 14 days when Lands End airport was closed, and now 175 passengers forced to spend the weekend on the mainland at great expense and inconvenience. There is no quick fix for the weather, but documenting the difficulties faced by passengers this weekend would help Friends of Isles of Scilly Transport (FRIST) take forward its long term campaign for reliable, affordable year-round transport links to the islands. Please help by going to the FRIST website at and completing a Travel Disruption Report.

  11. Agnes Nitt December 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

    I love the way the helicopter is hiding in the background of your photo.

  12. Chris Pearson, Land's End Airport Manager December 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    While it must have been a nervous wait for many Skybus passengers (thank you for your patience), it should be recognised that Skybus, Land’s End Airport, Newquay Airport and St. Mary’s Airport staff made a fantastic effort to transport all passengers in time for Christmas day. While the weather threw everything at us (with many trunk roads and the main rail link still unserviceable) our pilots came back in off leave, Land’s End Airport staff departed Penwith today at 0530 returning after 1800 to support the Newquay operation (for both passenger support and loading/unloading the freight/mail/newspaper flights), Skybus operations staff who phoned countless people, Engineeering Support and many others. Well done to all. I wish our passengers, staff and all on the Islands a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful, happy and healthy 2013.