Councillors Exempt Medical Flights From Landing Fee Increase

airport from old townMedical flights will be exempt from new out-of-hours landing fees at St Mary’s airport, approved by councillors at the Transport Committee Meeting.

Charter flights landing outside the airport’s normal operational hours, including Sundays, are currently charged a fee of £379, but Airport Manager Howard Cole, said this barely covered the cost of the services, such as air traffic control and fire cover.

He proposed doubling that to £757 in order to help improve the airport’s financial performance.

But members felt this could have an adverse affect on flights for patients with disabilities or those that need to be medically evacuated.

Chartering a Skybus Islander plane for a stretcher transfer currently costs around £700 alone.

Emergency services’ flights, such as the air ambulance and Culdrose helicopter, aren’t charged an out-of-hours fee.

Council Chair Amanda Martin said she hoped the committee could make a special case to waive charges for medical cases, while Committee Chair Chris Thomas said the Council had to be seen to be humanitarian.

Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith went a step further and wanted an exemption included in the proposal which councillors voted to accept.

It’s unlikely the move will raise much money for the airport. Howard admitted there was only one request for out-of-hours opening for a charter flight last year, which in the end didn’t take place because of the weather.

In the same item, an increase in the landing fees for training flights was also accepted. These are currently free, but will now be 40% of the standard charge, depending on the aircraft used.