Government Funding For Newquay-London Air Route Welcomed

Newquay Cornwall airportScilly’s tourist industry representatives and transport campaigners have welcomed the news that the government will fund the air link between Newquay and London Gatwick, to keep it going for a further four years.

The Department for Transport has announced that it is providing £2.5 million to maintain the FlyBe-operated flights with a further £300,000 coming from Cornwall Council.

Last year the airline said it would cut the route because it wasn’t economically viable.

The money has come from a special Regional Air Connectivity Fund and is the second route to be funded, following the announcement in June of a two-year deal on the air route between Dundee and London Stansted.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said he hopes this fund will help other remote areas of the UK sustain economically important connections to London too.

The fact that the government is subsidising 90% of the cost of the air service from Newquay may lead to renewed calls from islanders for a Public Service Obligation on a winter passenger boat service to Scilly.

In a public meeting held in April, the Council’s Strategic Development Officer Diana Mompoloki told attendees that island council tax payers would need to find the cash to fund a PSO if it was awarded.

That could be “a large sum of money,” she said, which is why the Council was reluctant to apply for one.

Coordinator for campaign group FRIST, Marian Bennett, says the new funding is a useful precedent, adding “the more Public Service Obligation routes to remote areas the better.”

Marian says this PSO is an important contribution to making Scilly more accessible and it’s hoped that Flybe and Skybus will co-ordinate their timetables to maximise the benefit for passengers to and from Scilly.

Chairman of the Islands’ Partnership Chris Gregory said the announcement of support for the Newquay/Gatwick link is excellent news and with a four-year period of certainty, we can now “really plan with confidence.”

Chris said the Partnership looks forward to working with Skybus and Flybe to ensure good connectivity of flights and will be looking to build on the promotion of Scilly in the South East as a result.

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