Council To Undertake Formal Review Of Sunday Flying

The Council is to launch a formal review into the potential for scheduled flying to and from St Mary’s airport on Sundays.

Development officer, Julian Pearce said the question of Sunday flying is ‘often mentioned but never fully addressed,’ adding that an open discussion is long overdue.

In his report, which went before councillors at last Thursday’s Transport Committee meeting, Julian said the recent review by consultants Parson Brinkerhoff stated that the decline in visitor numbers could not be reversed unless the airport opens on Sundays.

However he also accepted that the impacts could be far reaching and there would need to be negotiations with the Steamship Company, the tourism sector and the wider community to decide how to move forward.

Cllr Robert Dorrien Smith supported the work and asked the council to move quickly. He said it was an urgent matter and the issue shouldn’t be left on the back burner.

The Airport Management Group will now produce a business case for Sunday flying and present that back to Full Council in the autumn.

55 Responses to Council To Undertake Formal Review Of Sunday Flying

  1. Grey Hound August 1, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I think the fundimental question is, will Sunday flying bring in “Extra” custom or simply spread out the visitors we already have leaving B&B’s empty on a Sunday evening when they would previously been occupied. The ONLY thing that will bring more people to the islands and therefore through the airport is BETTER VALUE FOR MONEY. Cheaper flights and accommodation would be great, but if we aren’t going to get that, at least have BETTER accommodation and service, and flights which are delayed less than they are now.

  2. Peter July 31, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I said I wouldn’t contribute further, but I want to agree with one part of Al’s comments (30 July 12.01). Yes, Scilly’s unique selling point, to use marketing jargon, is the “quietness, a relaxed, unhurried environment, wildlife, night skies, views to die for and beautiful seas etc etc”. OK, so, DON’T change the way you deliver your product to tourists and instead go for a VERY specialised market of those who appreciate this unique selling point. As others have pointed out, in this internet age in which people sadly want high stimulation levels and think nothing of travelling to distant exotic places, there will be an ever-reducing market for Scilly’s unique selling point. My wife and I come to Scilly for exactly what Al describes – to sit, look, wander, wonder, breathe, laugh, to be fully alive for a while – but frankly, we can’t afford to this year, which upsets us. The cost of such holidays to Scilly will be very high, so you are looking at a target audience of very wealthy people, and wealthy people are used to the fine things in life, which brings me back to my complaint about – with notable exceptions – the poor standard of accommodation and food on the islands. You can’t have it both ways. Keeping Scilly as this remote, unchanged idyll will require catering for wealthy people with very high expectations for levels of service. Most B&Bs will then go out of business, as will most of the eating houses.

    You have three options:
    1. Go for the high-end tourism with even fewer numbers than now. This change to a rich person’s idyll will mean most tourism-based businesses will have to close. Without work, most islanders will have to leave, unless they are retired. House prices will drop, as it becomes a buyers’ market. Without a below-retirement workforce, essential services will grind to a halt (roads, gardens, sanitation, domiciliary care for the remaining elderly etc). Maybe a temporary, migrant workforce will be brought in to do the basic jobs. It will soon become unsustainable. Think Tresco for the whole of Scilly.
    2. Modernise the tourism industry to aim, not for mass appeal, as that would mean killing the goose which lays the golden egg, but for services which appeal to a broad range of nature-loving, slightly better-off people who have fairly high expectations in the rest of their lives. Do please read the report by Blue Sail consultancy entitled “Future of Tourism on Scilly”, published in April 2011. It says it all.
    3. Diversify away from tourism. I said in my first post that all will be left is kelp-farming unless Scilly changes. If you want a sustainable and thriving population on Scilly, without following options 1 or 2 above, then you will need to set up a new industry, quickly. What product can Scilly offer to the global market, if not tourism in a beautiful environment? Internet-based services? Education-based services (which is why I previously suggested links with Plymouth University and hosting conferences)? Any other product requires a means of shipping that product and that brings us back to where we started – the lack of transport.

    It’s likely, in whatever scenario, that Scilly’s resident population will plummet. This then makes an independent council, with its current status akin to a county/borough, untenable for a population of, say, a thousand. This is why I suggested a forum of residents to lobby for change to the Duchy, as I don’t see the IoS council having much clout and I believe people-power will have more impact.

    Talking of the Duchy, I see Scilly in some ways as quite feudal. That’s got to change. Even the last outpost of feudalism in Europe, Sark, has now embraced change.

    Liz: you are “loving this debate”. Yes, I know what you mean. It sort-of would be fun were it not so serious a discussion about the livelihoods and futures of the residents of Scilly.

  3. Jonny Exile July 31, 2013 at 10:08 am

    lead = led in the last paragraph of my post – if anyone actually reads that far!

  4. Jonny Exile July 31, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Firstly, apologies for coming late to the discussion and also for the essay style posting.

    It’s important to remember that the Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) report relates to St. Mary’s airport in particular and not visitor numbers in general although the two are obviously related. In terms of the viability of the airport people using the airport rather than coming on the Scillonian would count as a successful outcome in PB’s terms although total visitor numbers would remain unchanged.

    Julian Pearson is right, PB did recommend that Sunday flying be permitted in order to reverse the decline in passengers using the airport. What he didn’t say, but which PB makes quite clear on page 11 of their report, is that their conclusions are entirely based on the assumption that the helicopter service would continue; the report having been published before BIH decided to pull out. The (huge) consequence of that assumption is that the passenger numbers for St. Mary’s airport that PB use in all their calculations exclude the Tresco passengers who are now travelling via St. Mary’s. To illustrate the importance of that consider the following. PB give passenger numbers of 112,000 per year going through St. Mary’s in 2011/12 and an estimate of 135,000 in ‘Year 5’ (the fifth year of the operation of their plan. However, if you add the Tresco passenger numbers of around 40,000 (page 81) to the 2011/12 figures you’re probably already over PB’s Year 5 figures. Obviously the situation may change regarding a helicopter service but one of the fundamental assumptions underlying PB’s recommendation of Sunday flying is clearly wrong. If I were reworking their conclusions I would probably make no helicopter service my base case with scenarios for a return to a full helicopter service and, secondly, the introduction of a premium Tresco service possibly during the Summer only.

    PB also make it clear that, even though they recommend Sunday flying, they had not discussed it in any depth with the parties that would be involved such as the Steamship Company before presenting their report.

    Based on PB’s scenarios on pages 125 to 129 of their report I’ve tried to work out the benefits of Sunday flying to St. Mary’s airport. The first point I would make is that the only scenario that reflects Sunday flying is Scenario 5 on page 129 which itself is based on Scenario 1 (page 125) which PB describe as ‘optimistic’ (with 4% annual growth) which, in the parlance of these kind of things, almost certainly means the best possible outcome. My point is that, in arguing for Sunday flying in Scenario 5, PB have started from the best possible place. I’m absolutely sure that it wasn’t the intention of PB but looking at Scenario 5 alone could possibly be very misleading as to the benefits of Sunday flying.

    Looking at the figures in detail, as I said above, PB’s Sunday flying figures come from Scenario 5 which, as they explain on page 125 is Scenario 1 with the addition of Sunday flying starting in Year 2. So, in order to get an idea of the benefits of Sunday flying to the airport I guess you need to add up PB’s profit figures (they call them ‘EBITDA’) for Years 2-5 inclusive from Scenarios 1 and 5 and then deduct Scenario 1 from 5. When I do that I get the grand sum of £7,153 as being the net benefit of Sunday flying over a five year period i.e. under £1,500 per year. Even that seems to largely be attributable to some highly questionable assumptions about the growth of private flights to St. Mary’s. For example, in Scenario 5 PB have revenue from private flights increasing from £14,000 in Year 1 to £20,000 in Year 2, an increase of over 40%.

    I obviously appreciate that any additions to visitor numbers will bring benefits broader than simply increasing airport revenues but given how negligible they appear to be for the airport my question would be how much will the total benefit actually be?

    If it does turn out that a Sunday service is needed to help tourism or sufficient weight is given to important non-economic factors such as those raised by Lucy then it should be allowed. However, what must not be allowed to happen is for the Council (once again) to be lead to reaching what turns out to be the wrong decision.

  5. Jeff Eastick July 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    The spectre of Sunday flights certainly seems to have provoked a range of comments but I fail to understand that aircraft noise can be put forward as a reason not to have them. Having just returned from Scilly after our annual visit , I cannot see flight noise as a problem. We live within a few miles of RAF Odiham and I can assure you that Chinook helicopters are far noisier than any aircraft , but I accept that flying is a vital part of the aircrew’s training. Similarly , if I were living in Scilly , I would happily accept the additional noise of Sunday flying , if it brought extra visitors to the Islands , but I am not convinced that would happen. Nor do I believe that Sunday sailings by the Scillonian will address this problem.
    The cost of getting to and from the Islands and eating out whilst there , together with accommodation , is the main reason visitor numbers are falling.
    Until these problems are addressed I cannot see numbers improving.
    I can perhaps understand some people’s frustration with Skybus flights having to approach so often over Hugh Town , but this is necessary when wind direction demands it. Something the helicopter did not have to worry about so much but expecting this service to reappear is most hopeful.
    My experience this July is that Skybus are doing very well in coping with the additional numbers of passengers they are carrying , and that they could cope just as well if numbers were to increase , but costs need to be reduced for this to happen when hard pushed families can fly to the Med for far less cost.

  6. David Price, Banbury, Oxfordshire July 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    My son and I visited Tresco each year from 1996 to 2006, always travelling via St Marys. My last visit was in 2009. Having regularly followed the FRIST website since its inception, I am alarmed at the lack of foresight and apparent unwillingness to ‘move with the times’ evident in many of the above posts.
    The islands economy depends on tourism. It is self-evident that the extremely high cost of air travel from the mainland to St Mary’s is a far more significant factor in the reduction of visitor numbers than the ability to travel on a Sunday. However, I can assure Scilly residents that were I able to do so, it would be a definate advantage to me and other prospective visitors. St Marys airport has far higher fixed costs than variable costs. Being able to generate revenue over 7 days not 6 must increase its financially viability.
    Lastly, if those posting remarks would use less emotion and more common sense, they may find their views are taken more seriously.

  7. Al July 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Tourism has moved on from Scilly’s heydays. In 2013, scale means it cannot get the convenience and costs of transport to a level that would compete with the likes of Mallorca etc. Again because of the economies of scale, food and accommodation will always be more expensive and then there’s the sunshine factor. No point in trying to do the impossible. So I would have thought the tourism of a never, never land with longer runways should be forgotten and concentrate instead on (and protect) the real Scilly with qualities it can uniquely offer in spades; quietness, a relaxed, unhurried environment, wildlife, night skies, views to die for and beautiful seas etc etc. And that precious feeling of ‘being away from it all’, which would not be helped by Sunday flying. And also, perhaps implement one of the most common requests made in the many questionnaires about what would improve the visitors stay, that of reducing and slowing cars and traffic. Your results suggest this would be far more beneficial to the tourist trade than Sunday flying ever could be but oddly, this gift horse is always ignored. Whilst costs dictate it will never be perfect and I suspect the majority would not want it to be so either, more reliable transport to the Islands is important, including a decent runway at Lands End and possibly winter sailings.

  8. Liz July 30, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I’m loving this debate, 46 comments so far from both sides of the Atlantic. It’s certainly fired up some feelings & thoughts. I think a Referendum could sort this out. I feel another comment coming on.

  9. Peter July 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Well, thank you. At least I’ve got some more reasonable reactions at last. Colin Bean asked for some tangible suggestions re what to do re change, so I gave him some, such as the airport extension or the conferencing (by which, “yet another islander”, I meant hosting conferences for people from the mainland, not taking part in them – my fault for poor wording) etc. Obviously, I’m no civil engineer, accountant or politician, so I’m pretty sure these are all half-baked ideas, but all I’m trying to do is to provoke some lateral thinking. I’m aware that flights from Brittany were tried and failed, but we need to ask why they failed. There have been several bitter responses to my posts on this thread along the lines of “if you don’t like it here (which I do, as I keep saying), then don’t come here again”. Any shop, pub, theatre or whatever which takes that approach to customers is doomed. Even if you don’t agree with my radical suggestions (fair enough, but do come up with your own), how loud do we have to shout it that the tourism business of Scilly is doomed if you keep saying “if you don’t like it then clear off and don’t come again, as we don’t want to know and we don’t want to change”? I run my own successful business and I ask for and get feedback from clients on a daily basis. It’s vital. I run my life and my business by the maxim “no gain without pain”. “Yet another islander” says “your never know you might find that there are some visitors who actually like what we have to offer”. I know, I know, I know… but there aren’t enough of them are there?! And yes, I would advocate benign dictatorship for the whole country. Our democratically elected lot in London aren’t exactly trustworthy, are they? I think I’ve said more than enough. I will not post any further until some other issue gets me worked up enough. I wish you well. I really do. I adore Scilly.

    • Granny Grump July 30, 2013 at 10:26 am

      Why do accommodation providers on Scilly level such ‘bitter responses’ as Peter puts it at his and others’ comments? He is only trying to help a place he obviously loves. If all your accommodation was full for the season I could understand it but are you? We all come for the wonderful scenery so some of us are willing to overlook any other negative issues but not all will and won’t come again.Too many people on this site are on the defensive instead of thinking that people like Peter might have some valid points.

  10. dcliffe July 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    The issue of Sunday flying, declining visitor numbers and airport finances are all closely linked according to the Parsons Brinkerhoff Report. The two Council documents below are quite illuminating:

    Council IOS brief (for Transport Cmttee Meeting on 18 July 2013) at link below:

    Appendix : Airport Funding Options – Outline List at link below:

  11. yet another islander July 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Peter, firstly let me say that I am actually not opposed to Sunday flights, sadly I think that the tourist industry demands that visitors can travel seven days a week, but I do take exception to some of your ideas.
    Where do you think the funding would come from to build a runway over the Atlantic? Get real, the islands are a fraction of the size of Madeira.
    A desalination plant underneath? Where would you position the bore holes, where would the pipe work run and who’s gonna pay?
    Putting our rubbish there as well ( and your rubbish too whilst you’re visiting) I do hope that you’re being facetious.
    As you’ve been coming for so many years, despite the dreadful food and appalling accommodation you will, of course, know that flights were tried from Brittany to Scilly and were not a success…..
    A local forum? For what it’s worth we have an elected council who represent our views with the Duchy of Cornwall.
    Benign dictatorship? Would you advocate that kind of governance for the whole country?
    Conference facilities…..we have a vibrant Adult Learning Centre with courses tutored from afar. Believe it or not we use Skype. I understand that various organisations on the island already use video conferencing to conduct their business.
    Students from various universities come over throughout the year for research but do you honestly think that whilst budgets are being cut that any education facility is going to set up a satellite station on a tiny little island like ours?
    Finally, and I feel loathe to repeat this, if you really find so many aspects of the islands distasteful why on earth do you keep coming back? If my wife and I have been served a mediocre meal we tell the chef, how else will they know for another time.
    If we find our B&B is below standard whilst on the mainland we tell them.
    Have you tried Trip Advisor? Give it a go if you feel you like gracing us with your presence again , read the reviews, your never know you might find that there are some visitors who actually like what we have to offer.

  12. Mary Magdalane July 29, 2013 at 11:43 am

    you are so right
    I wonder why people bother coming here at all sometimes
    The place is expensive and the service is pretty awful in most retail outlets.
    The general view is ‘we like the tourists money but not the tourists’
    Any attempt to change is more often than not met with derision and outrage.

    People forget the islands whole economy is built on tourism and as such we should be catering to your needs and not our own lazy self interests, either that or we go down the pan

  13. Golden Eagle July 29, 2013 at 11:11 am

    This is where democracy doesn’t work.
    See, I don’t care what locals ‘think’ about Sunday flying. I bet they were also outraged when the internet was introduced to the islands, and the roads were concreted, or the police numbers were increased to 2.

    They don’t seem so outraged that a large school lies derelict on the top of the hill, or that traffic is getting out of hand, or that St Austell Brewery syphon huge amounts out of the islands, or that young people on the islands can’t find a place to live, etc etc

    No, it’s just much more important to stop 20 seconds of aircraft noise wherever possible, God forbid it happens 4 or 5 times on a Sunday, that’s a full minute and a half of noise to deal with IF the flight path goes right overhead. Maybe the Church will also step-in and protest, in fact, I bet they will, because nobody does chaos quite like the church, despite their congregations probably adding up to less than 2% of the population of the islands. I’d actually take more notice of an amalgamated confederation of the Darts League representation, at least some of them still work and know what colour a £5 note is.

    And while we’re on the subject of noise, what about traffic noise? I’d much prefer a ban on driving on a Sunday than a ban on flying. Oh no you say, can’t possibly do that, too much of a sacrifice.

    Dissenters, I can just imagine you picnic’ing now, at Carreg Dhu, and enjoying yourselves on a Sunday. That’ll keep me warm at night, knowing you semi-retired and lucky, lucky pre-housing-boom investors can have everything your way. Do you mind queueing in the Co-op with us as well or would you prefer we waited outside until you finish? I wouldn’t want to spoil your ‘vibe’ or anything.

    Honestly. Noise, planning permissions, AONB, you think you’re keeping this place safe but you’re actually strangling it to death. There’s about 40,000 less passengers per year visiting these islands compared with 10 years ago. In real terms that’s a 25% drop in 10 years and this year is looking even worse. And remember that losses accelerate as they get bigger so we could be on our knees within 3 years unless we DO (and this is the operative word, ‘do’) something to change the landscape for visitors. The islands no longer like to ‘do’. We’re a lazy generation now because everything has just come so easy for so long….ooh look a helicopter! WEEEEEE! Oh look my house value has increased by 600% in five years, oh look the old visitors love giving us money maybe we can charge more, oh look the Queen and Prince Charles are here again. It’s insane, this isn’t ‘real life’ and now finally the bubble has burst.

    The good old generation built roads, they introduced a helicopter service when it was radical, they built a town on a sand-bar, they built a quay on each island, they built a hospital, they never stood still. We’re slobs in comparison and we’re held back by Jane and Johnny Middleclass who haven’t got the fight. Now we’re rebuilding a runway and an airport, we’re rebuilding the quay, but we need to keep going. Build new houses please, and listen to clever ideas, embrace change.

    Honestly…’family day’…do you live in 1968 or something? It’s called money, it’s important to those that don’t already have it or got lucky in the 90’s when they bought a house for £1000. Or maybe you do live in 1968, at least that would explain the decor of your accomodation.

    I love my family but the best way to do that is through earning them money, because this world is a very different place now to what it once was, and the difference between the have’s and have not’s has never been greater. I will honour my family by working on a Sunday. Had Johnny Middleclass embraced change 10-15 years ago when the prices here started to creep up then I probably wouldn’t have to work on a Sunday now. Ta.

    If you don’t like change, that’s fine, you’re entitled to not like change. But don’t get in the way of those that do. If you want to live like The Waltons then you can always move to an off-island, there’s four of them to pick from. Meanwhile, on St Mary’s, we’re sacrificing things to keep the rest of Disneyland viable.

  14. John Smith July 29, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Adam, the Coop is a national company, no choice there. The boatmen do a brilliant job & our very much part of Scillonian life. Sunday airplanes are not. I am curious why you have such a mission to support Sunday flying.
    I live on St Mary’s (the one with the airport) I have worked extremely hard all my life, I have been ‘on call’ 24/7 for many years & am now retired so the peace & quiet on a Sunday is welcomed.

  15. maggiemay July 29, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Peter – 28th July 6.52pm – after reading your rhetoric I cannot understand why you still come to the islands. What a lecture. And as for one of your ideas to extend the runway out to the sea a little bit over the top methinks; and as for being helpful some of your comments are quite hurtful.

  16. Adam Morton,St.Martins. July 29, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Your imagination suits your name! These issues may be “politics” to you but they are our livlihoods! I wonder how many who say no on here actualy live directly under the flight line? Then you have the fact that we have a short season industry with the other 9 months or so to get your fill of peace & quiet!Then you have changing wind directions which would not mean the same flight path every week.Then the “family time” which assumes everyone required to work that day has one or couldn’t take the day before or after off instead-I wonder how the CO OP can bear to be open on a sunday or the Boatmen run any trips etc etc?It may and probably will be too expensive to opperate or provide no additonal trade but on the other hand it could grow to a 15% boost over a few years.
    If nothing is done as Neil says above, it will result in all the things now taken for granted disappearing when they can’t get enough trade to be viable.Indeed it has already well begun with the helicopters hotel-s and pubs.Let us hear some actual facts from people with real names before we reach conclusions?

  17. Adam Morton,St.Martins July 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Well said.

  18. Peter July 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Firstly, the sequence of posts on this thread has gone wrong, so do please work out the right order folks and it all makes more sense. Therefore, Granny Grump: explanation understood and apology accepted. To Local Yokel: despite your aggressive suggestion, I don’t want to move to Scilly (lovely though it be), I have already explained why I would not want to be on your council or any other council (read my post). You ask me not to interfere with your council. I’m not: I’m expressing an opinion on a website messageboard, which is entirely different, is what the messageboard is for and something I am perfectly entitled to do. So many personal attacks on this thread! You assume I “interfere” with my local council. Wrong. For reasons already explained in previous posts, I have no wish to. It would be good if some people would be less aggressive and engage in discussion.

    To Colin Bean: you accuse me of misquoting contributors. “Put up or shut up” is a verbatim quote from Granny Grump’s post on 26 July at 3.08pm, although she has since kindly explained how her comment was open to misinterpretation. “Why do you come here…?” is my reasonable paraphrase of your comment “I don’t know why you bother to come at all if the accommodation and food is so poor!”. In my first post I was careful to use the word “largely” to suggest that most, but not all, accommodation and restaurants are 1950’s style, and I explained that we continue to come DESPITE this, which clearly says that we come for reasons other than food and beds. That’s why we “bother to come”. It took us 25 years to find good accommodation on St Mary’s, having stayed in some dreadful places. We now have somewhere which is excellent (I won’t advertise). As with this whole post, you can either listen to what is hopefully valuable and well-intended feedback or you can just mock me or slag me off. You ask for tangible ideas. I have made many in previous posts over the last year or so. Here’s a few, old and new:
    1. A forum of local residents, including business owners, to lobby the Duchy for the need for change, as without this recognition by the Duchy, all other suggestions are pointless.
    2. Establish a link with the University of Plymouth’s Marine Biology department so as to create a satellite research unit on Scilly, thus getting all of your eggs out of one basket.
    3. Ditto re wildlife studies, especially birds.
    4. Develop conferencing facilities on Scilly.
    5. Sunday flights, so as to enable the crucial weekend breaks market.
    6. Somehow lengthen the airport runway. How about building out over the sea (as Madeira) and putting a further desalination plant underneath whilst also moving the eyesore waste mountain there.
    7. Then, market Scilly as “the Celtic Fringe” to a totally untapped market in Ireland and northern France, as people would then be able to fly to Scilly on slightly bigger planes than the current Twin Otters. This would also extend Scilly’s UK catchment area from what is mainly the South West into, say, the Midlands, if there were flights from Brum.
    8. Throw out en masse the hideous 1950s and 1960s furniture from half (not all; some are OK, remember!) the B&Bs (bury it all under the new runway) and organise a bulk purchase from Ikea or similar.
    9. Retrain the chefs and “servers” (as they are now called) in some of the eating houses on Scilly so that they can cook modern appetising meals and serve them politely and efficiently. Keep the restaurants open after 8pm. Early closing leaves us and many others tearing our hair out. Some places are very good (again, no adverts). Some are abysmal. Over the years, we have been served cold food, burnt food, re-heated food, inedible food by staff who are surly and disinterested. Read reviews elsewhere and you will see others say the same. We would have walked out several times had there been anywhere else to go. This is the whole point: your former visitors ARE choosing to go elsewhere.

    Please don’t attack me. I’m trying to be helpful. Sad though it is, all of this is no big deal to me, in one sense. Other holiday destinations are available, as they say. I’ll only lose my favourite holiday spot. The residents of Scilly stand to lose their jobs and homes unless change happens.

  19. Neil July 28, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Bill, you over simplify and cherry pick from my comments to suit your cause. I clearly see the majority of postings want Scilly to go back to how it was 20-40 years ago. Fabulous! If that is what the citizens really want than they should make it that way. But be careful what you wish for. Were things really better back then or are you living on memories seen through a rose colored retrospectoscope?

    As a resident of a similar small island I can show our population went from about 2,000 to 450. With that decline went all but one grocery store (we had 7), all but two seasonal restaurants, and our upper school. Grade school went to combined classes. The tax base could not support more. Part of the decline was the domino effect of the fixed costs of the ferry needing to be offset by fewer passengers. Fares went from 5 dollars to 40 dollars each way, which convinced islanders barely able to make ends meet that they needed to live on the mainland. This spiral happens very quickly and Scilly may well be at a tipping point. Our island embraced tourism for a while and when it did the hemorrhage slowed greatly, but then residents decided that tourism was changing things too much and came to hate tourists. When that happened, our fate was sealed. Population fell by 100/year as people moved off and young people who went off to college never returned. Without tourism there were no opportunities for people who wanted to stay and work. A closed island economy just circulates the same few coins. It takes money from outside to keep the pump primed. And, with fewer people, the politicians on the mainland came to see us as simply a burden, an ugly center that could never carry its own weight. The idea of funding a new power plant, or underwater cable, or high speed Internet, or new school facilities, or repaving roads or the airstrip all were hard to justify for a declining population with fewer votes and less tax revenue for the county kitty.

    You say that “all our guests love the fact that we represent, in a small way, Britain as it used to be before consultants and armchair “experts” took over!” and I understand that. We used that same tag line to get people to visit our island. But I also will state that the number of people who are looking for that kind of experience are declining. You have had the same visitors returning annually for many years. But remember, they are getting older, living on fixed incomes and won’t keep making their annual pilgrimage. Unless you can be sure that their children and grandchildren, who grew up in the Internet age, thriving on stimulation, are going to replace these elders, you are facing a very difficult future. Tourism will keep falling by 10% or more/year. And I am equally sure that those last 10% of tourists are the ones who generate the profit, after your first 90% cover fixed costs for any inn, hotel, or restaurant.

    I understand you believe that the noise of two flights/day will drive all Sicllonians “bonkers”; as a psychiatrist, I can assure you that fear is unnecessary.

    I do hope Scillonians have a real soul searching public discussion about your future, because if you don’t, the decline is guaranteed. Steer your ship in these rough seas and don’t simply bob along like a cork in a storm.

    Neil Kaye-a lover of Scilly with a touch of a dream to move there some day.

  20. Colin Bean July 27, 2013 at 6:29 pm


    Please don’t put quotes in your comments that have not been said! Who told you to “Put up or Shut up” or “Don’t come here if you don’t like it”? What was said was totally different.
    Secondly, you seem to have the desire to put all our wrongs right, but have no tangible ideas to bring to the table. Words mean nothing unless backed up with substance.
    Methinks you need a holiday.
    Unfortunately, you don’t like the food or accommodation here……….

  21. Local Yokel July 27, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I can’t imagine, Adam, that you work 365/6 days a year. If you are you need to change direction or maybe you enjoy what you do.
    Peter, yes we know Augustus Smith changed these islands during hard times, but that was a long time ago. If you’re so concerned about Scilly, move here, get on the council, or stay out of our local politics, we don’t interfere with yours…..I bet you do!

  22. Peter July 26, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Oh dear! I’m disappointed to see that my previous posting on this subject did not stir up enough Scillonians, other than those who responded in a fairly petulant way (“put up or shut up”; “why do you come if you don’t like it here?”). I did say why we still come, and why we will continue to visit, but it’s clear that not many more will continue and there will not be many newcomers. I love Scilly, and i like the people. I’m trying to be helpful. I passionately want Scilly to continue as much as possible as it is now, BUT YOU’VE GOT TO CHANGE WITH THE TIMES. Many posts on this thread are saying “don’t change what we like”. Yes, you might like it, but it’s killing you. Yes, of course people come because it’s like Britain used to be, but there aren’t enough of those people left. Of course it’s not going to turn into Ayia Napa; that’s taking the argument into the realms of the ridiculous. Actually, I’m not much bothered about the specifics of Sunday flights or no Sunday flights; there are more fundamental issues at stake here, like the future of the islands.

    OK, let’s be a bit more brutal in order to get a response from you guys. Personally, I don’t think democracy works (a benign dictatorship is better). The result of democracy is usually inertia by committee and Scilly doesn’t have much time left. So many accounts on this website describe how various IoS Council committees fiddle around whilst Rome is burning. Combine that with the renowned dreckly attitudes of the Cornish, and we can expect that nothing will ever get done to save the Scilly holiday industry. I do not trust your elected leaders ever to get their fingers out. What you need is a dynamic and charismatic leader, a kind of Richard Branson or a Dragons’ Den type, to show some initiative and take action, and, agreed, you do not need another bunch of consultants. And, in case you think this is rubbish, there is a historical precedent: Scilly was in terminal decline, with terrible poverty and squalor, until Augustus Smith poked his nose in, upset lots of people, took the bull by the horns and saved the islands. Now… come on… let’s hear some fighting talk.

    • Granny Grump July 27, 2013 at 8:44 am

      Peter I wasn’t telling you to put up or shut up! I was trying to say how other people were responding to you! Sorry it made me sound petulant and that wasn’t what I meant!

      • Granny Grump Again July 27, 2013 at 11:29 am

        Peter, I don’t think anyone will listen…they will just say if you are a visitor (which I am- I am not a Scillonian) you don’t have the right to criticise…I know because I have tried!! (And I love the islands more than anywhere else I’ve been!)

    • Granny Grump July 27, 2013 at 11:50 am

      My reply to you seems to have disappeared so I will apologise again Peter…I was not telling you to ‘put up and shut up’, I was just paraphrasing what others seemed to be saying to you! I agree with what you are saying! Sorry if it sounded otherwise.

  23. Bill Hiner July 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Neil Kaye

    What do you propose-Aya Nappa? The islands are famous and revered for being a quiet getaway with old world charm. All our guests love the fact that we represent, in a small way, Britain as it used to be before consultants and armchair “experts” took over!
    As for “How disturbing can the noise of one or two flights a day be”- plenty!
    Your assertion is that 1 or 2 flights will save us all is bonkers.

    • John J July 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Yes Bill the Islands USED to be a quiet getaway, but with literally hundreds of cars on the small roads it is now very difficult to negotiate the road system without every couple of minutes having to stand to the side to let them by. I can remember a time when I could walk virtually around St Mary’s and just see the bus. So before you go on about the extra flights perhaps you would like to tackle the ever increasing traffic that is spoiling the “quiet Sunday” you all crave for.

      • Nobby Nobbs July 28, 2013 at 11:01 am

        Why people in town own a car is beyond me as nowhere is more than a 5min walk away. Again if the council were to instate a regular 15min round the island bus service then perhaps people would give up their cars, but somehow I doubt it.

  24. Adam Morton,St.martins July 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    It must be nice to afford to have Sunday off!

    • Fred July 28, 2013 at 11:51 am

      It is thanks, but then I feel I deserve a day off in the week to actually enjoy my life! I appreciate that your businesses are trying to take up the slack since the closure of the pub and hotel but there’s no need to guilt trip other people for having Sundays off. Most of us work hard all week, between 37-50 hours, so I think people are entitled to a day of family time or personal relaxation to their own tailoring.

  25. Steven July 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Parson Brinkerhoff can’t possibly know that the only way to reverse the decline in visitor numbers is through Sunday air travel.

    Why didn’t the council hold a referendum and find out what the people who live here actually want rather than waste money on outside consultants who can do nothing better than guess what might happen if we start air travel on Sundays.

  26. Colin Bean July 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

    John Banfield is right!

    Visitor numbers are down because of many (mostly financial) reasons. It therefore makes no sense to open up for Sunday flying unless the mid-week flights are all full. If people REALLY want to come, they will arrive on one of the six alternative days.

    As for “Peter”: I don’t know why you bother to come at all if the accommodation and food is so poor!

    • Granny Grump July 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      Re: Colin Bean. Well that just about sums it up!! Peter, put up or shut up!! Charming…is it any wonder numbers are down.

  27. maggiemay July 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    To all the Councilors on the Isles of Scilly Council, please pleaase listen to the majority of comments on this page, and that is NO TO SUNDAY FLIGHTS – please do not listen to Consultants, so many changes have occurred through consultancies, and some not to the advantage of the islands.

  28. Neil Kaye July 26, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Sunday flights would absolutely help people who have to work on Mondays. How disturbing can the noise of one or two flights a day be? Would you ban the Culdrose evacuation chopper on Sunday simply because it disturbs the peace of Sunday? It seems that people on Scilly need to consider where they want the island to be in the future. If you don’t make things appealing to tourists, they will stop coming (the number show they are already going elsewhere.) Tourists today want a different experience than simply a remote self-catering get-away. Scilly can stay as it is, but if so, you need to develop an economy that doesn’t rely on tourism. I know numerous other islands facing the same dilemma. Before things fall apart, I implore you all to work together to decide what you want for your future. But, if tourism is to be a part of it, you will need to adapt to your customers and not vice-versa. You will also cast a much wider net to catch the good tourists-those able to spend more and willing to do so because of the experience you are selling them.

  29. Bill Weaver July 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Just to agree with all above – George is right, though it’s not just people from the West Country who are failing to return. During my visit this year ( which will almost certainly be my last ) I had conversations with several other visitors, all of who were reflecting on the high cost of travel, and who had doubts about returning. Like many who have just retired I find that my pension pot will not provide the income I had hoped and something’s got to go. This year was my 25th visit ( I travel alone – Scillys’ not everyones cup of tea – just ask my family ) but even so travel costs are now close to prohibitive.
    I really don’t know the answer – I talking to Fraser Hicks he admitted that numbers were down ( which was noticeable anyway ) but, being Fraser, he seem to take a philisophical view of it all.
    Regarding Sunday flying, i’ts important to remember that those who visit Scilly do so to enjoy the peace and quiet while still accepting the ” buzz ” of constant incoming and outgoing flights as a neccessity during the weekdays and Saturdays but if bookings are down to the extent that I was told, can the islands not have at least ONE day a week with no flights??

  30. John July 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    What a clever way to loose even more money for the steamship and the airport,we should have many many more consultants so that scilly can be complexity destroyed,slot mavchines even better,they should finally finish off our loyal visitors,don’t they realise they people come here for peace and quiet,and for what we don’t have!!!!!!!!!

  31. Peter July 25, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    I will keep on and on with occasional emails until the people of Scilly wake up and realise that the only business you will have left is kelp-farming unless you embrace 21st century tourism. There are only a few of us still on our legs who will tolerate largely 1950’s-style accommodation and restaurants in exchange for the amazing atmosphere of Scilly (don’t shoot me for this: the authors of the report on the future of Scilly tourism said essentially the same thing). My wife and I have often said it would be nice to nip over to Scilly for a weekend, but the lack of Sunday flights makes this difficult. We live in a tourist area where businesses have realised the days of the one or two week stay are over and weekend visits are the future. If you don’t see the need for this and you insist on protecting the peace and quiet of no-fly Sundays, you will soon have the peace and quiet of no flights on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays too. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

  32. Dredd July 25, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    In fairness to Mr Pearce, I think he’s just asking that a report be done to formalise an answer, I dont think he’s pushing either way for it himself.

  33. JOHN BANFIELD July 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I agree with the comments already posted, There is no need for Sunday transport to these Islands. The costs involved in employing extra staff on the airports and the quays will not be covered by the numbers of people who need to travel on a Sunday. Unless some thing is done about the transport cost into and out of the Islands all that will happen is the numbers of people coming to the Islands will be spread over 7 days instead of 6. Family life needs to be protected on the Islands and not eroded further by more families being forced to work on a Sunday. I am not a religious person but I did when working try to spend time at weekends with my family. Visitors I have spoken too are not that interested in Sunday flights and have welcomed the quiet on one day a week. Others have commented on how quite the Islands are without the constant clatter of an overhead Helicopter. Unfortunately it is not usually the ones who make these decisions who it affects the most, but the poor underlings who have to turn in on the day to implement these sometimes misguided decisions. And whilst I’m on the bandwagon Winter sailings of the Scillonian 111 are a pipe dream, most people will only use her over the winter as an insurance, their first preference will be to fly. Things may be different if a new dual purpose ship becomes available and combines freight with passengers, but somehow knowing human nature if you face a journey with a couple of kids a 20 min flight will always be preferable to a couple of hours in a Force 8 gale on the ship.

  34. jenny green July 25, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I recently stayed at a B&B recently in Penzance and there were people staying there, making their way to Scilly for their annual visit, by boat. They had been visiting Scilly for 40 years and this would be their last visit for sometime because of the total cost of their annual visit. It is not just the cost of the boat or plane, it is the cost of traveling to LandsEnd, Penzance or Nequay. The cost of B&B for one night, room with a view, first rate breakfast and accommodation in Penzance at peak season was £35 per person per night. These people were paying £42 per night in Scilly, no view. All these costs add up.

  35. Nobby Nobbs July 25, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Perhaps Sunday flights might not make a big increase to footfall, it will however offer our visitors a vast improvement in travel planning and would allow for weekend breaks both for visitors and locals.
    I’m sure the noise can be kept to a minimum by keeping flight paths to certain time slots during the day.
    Unfortunately people this is 2013 and we have to keep up with the times if we wish to survive.

  36. Liz July 25, 2013 at 8:45 am

    The comments here say it all. NO!!! to Sunday flying. If our newly elected councillors, any of them, support this, they are letting their voters down. IF it happens maybe all businesses should have a ‘Closed on Sundays’ policy. Somehow I don’t think it will happen, I hope I’m right.

  37. Lucy Wilkins July 25, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Additionally George they can get back in time to go to work on a Monday, without either cutting their holiday short by a day or by having to take an extra day off. I have to say flights on a Sunday would be a Godsend for me to be able to come over and see Mum and to be able to ferry her back and forth to fit in with work. Quite simply I would be able to see her more often.

    When Dad was so poorly it was sheer torture to know that at tea time on a Saturday there was no way I could get to the islands until Monday morning if I was lucky.

    It’s not as if the flight noise is Heathrow …………..

  38. Ken Wilkins July 25, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Is Scilly at long last waking up and smelling the coffee? If people can get back from the islands on a Sunday then it will increase the amount of weekend visitors there, these will be the people that will stay next year and will increase the tourist figures. Doesn’t need a posh consultancy firm to state the patently obvious. I don’t know of any other airport in the UK that closes on a Sunday particularly one that relies so much on tourism. Reducing the cost of what must be the most expensive mile for mile flight going would be another major step forward. Prices are also too high for accommodation, drinks and meals etc even allowing for the extra freight costs. Its a start though.

  39. Ritchie July 25, 2013 at 7:45 am

    So why is then that some 15 years ago with no Sunday Flights or indeed Sunday sailing the visitor numbers were far better than today ? Sunday flights will bring a few extra people in but at what cost. Concentrate of customer service and quality of product without wasting money on consultants and tourism champions. Sunday flights will put costs up for all of us. Give us one day of peace, scillonians have a saying ” NEVER ON A SUNDAY”.

    • Lindy July 25, 2013 at 10:34 am

      Agree with you totally Ritchie.

  40. Emma Hawker July 25, 2013 at 6:27 am

    I quite agree with the comments made by Colin……Sundays are wonderful without the aircraft noise….I could understand them doing a few flights if flight had to be cancelled from the day before, because of bad weather….These aircrafts need to be able to fly in worser weather conditions than they do now…..But the main problem l think, is Scilly is out pricing themselves… all getting to much….l have been coming to the island for 40yrs…and l’m wondering if we can afford to come again next year…..Nearly £700, for my family, just to fly to scilly from Lands End……’s a joke

  41. Mike Crawley July 24, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    the cost of flights and boat tickets is the deterrent to greater visitor numbers

  42. flower July 24, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    I agree completely- it is great no flying on Sundays visitors love it too- makes us different. Who needs a changeover on a Sunday- everyone needs a day off- close the co-op too !!

  43. Alan Nuffield July 24, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    No to Sunday flying!
    Total agreement with Colin Bean. There is no need for the financial greed perceived by some as essential to lining their own pockets to jeopardise the innate tranquility of the islands for everyone. Remember, new councillors you are accountable to the electorate who are sick of poor decision making over the last few years!

  44. Colin Bean July 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    No to Sunday flying!

    Please do not ruin the one day that is free from aircraft noise. We are in danger of destroying the one day that means so much to visitors and local residents. It is an absolute nonsense to blame the drop in visitor numbers on this. Is Mr Pearce seriously suggesting that all mid-week flights are full, and that the whole economy of the islands depend on a few folk coming on a Sunday?
    He, like many others should understand that it’s the lack of cash that has hit the tourism trade in the south west, and if anyone is to blame it’s the rich, bloated, self-righteous bankers!!!!!!!
    Non, Non, Non!!!!!

    • George Kershaw July 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      I agree Colin it is the high price of transport and accomodation that is to blame for the drop in visitor numbers.
      Tune into Radio Cornwall in the morning to get the perspective of the peopleof Cornwall who all say they would love to come over on holiday but can travel all inclusive to places like Cyprus and Turkey with the whole family for considerably less than a holiday over here, sad but true.

      • just a local July 26, 2013 at 2:10 am

        Don’t agree with you about accommodation prices George. most of us over here charge roughly the same as in Cornwall… and you forget we have to pay more for our food etc than the mainland… nearly all of us are just trying to survive/make a living and certainly not trying to get rich quick… its a shame some of the people cant see that… most of us are trying our best and it does not help when people just want to nick pick..
        Sunday flights … do you really think it will make a big difference?. cost etc .

        and Just look what’s going on in the world !!. I think i would rather stay in this country. its safer. !!.