Early And Late Flights To Scilly To Be Scrapped Next Year

airport from old townEarly morning and later evening flights to and from St Mary’s airport won’t return next season.

Tuesday’s Transport Committee approved changes to airport opening times that will mean next summer’s airport operations will start an hour later at 8.30 am.

And it will shut 30 minutes earlier at 6.30pm instead of the 7pm high season closing.

Steamship Company Chief Executive Jeff Marston says they’ve altered the Skybus schedule to get around the enforced 30-minute closure of the airport at teatime, to allow a break for air traffic controllers.

He says that this has been “disruptive.”  When it was introduced, councillors were told that another controller would have to be hired to end this break.

Jeff says the half-hour closing was problematic for Skybus and flights sometimes had to circle, waiting for the airport to re-open. It was also difficult explaining to passengers why a plane would be left unused on the runway when the weather was about to close in.

Jeff says he’d rather start operations early and run all day without the short closedown, but that’s not an option, as the airport can’t do that.

Skybus will alter its summertime flight times so the first schedule flights leave Land’s End and Newquay at 8.30am. That means the first in-bound flight will be at 8.45am and the last departure from Scilly will be 6.05pm.

Jeff says he has some sympathy with locals concerned that they will have less time for mainland daytrips.

But he says visitors are less likely to be affected, because the early and late flights are always the hardest to fill.

This reduction in opening hours could save the airport £13,000 in staff costs, although members heard that staff contracts may need changing.

And re-ordering rotas could cushion some of the additional Sunday opening costs, although the Steamship Company hasn’t approached the Council with plans for 7-day services yet.

Councillors expect to discuss this further in their February Transport meeting.

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