Prospective MP Says Progress Being Made On Helicopter Investment

helicopter agusta westland 189The prospective Conservative MP for Scilly says he’s making “real progress” in discussions with a well-known retail brand to establish a new helicopter service to the islands.

Derek Thomas says he’s been talking to a large company about investing in the route for commercial reasons. He said they didn’t want to be named at the moment, but will be sending senior executives to Cornwall within the next month.

It follows the visit to Cornwall and Scilly earlier this month by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Mr Thomas said he invited the Minister to a meeting to discuss the damage caused by the loss of the old British International chopper link and to ask if the Government would be prepared to underwrite the cost of a new service for three years.

“His response was very positive and he immediately asked me if I could get him a copy of the Price Waterhouse Cooper report so that he could look at ways of helping,” said Derek.

That study, which was published today, outlines some of the options being looked at – including building a new heliport and using AgustaWestland 189 helicopters.

Derek says losing the helicopter service two years ago was “nothing short of catastrophic” and created problems for the many businesses and individuals who relied on the Penzance route.

Mr McLoughlin said Derek had put the argument to him forcefully when they met. He said he would now look carefully at all aspects of the study.

During his visit to the islands, the Minister said he wanted to “see what happens this winter” before considering any new transport subsidies on the route, following hardening of the Land’s End runway.

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