Councillors Discuss Future Of St Mary’s Airport

airport may 2015An arms-length company could be set up to run St Mary’s Airport.

That was one of the ideas put forward at an urgent meeting called by Council Chief Executive Theo Leijser last Thursday to address the growing financial crisis at the airport.

Thirteen councillors attended the meeting, chaired by Mr Leijser and Airport Manager Craig Dryden, although some of them had to leave during the session.

Accounts published last week showed that the airport’s bank account was £170,000 in the red at the end of last financial year.

That’s a big problem for the Authority. In the Full Council meeting in March, a report written by Senior Finance Manager Laura Roberts said it was “not legally permitted” for the airport’s trading account to be subsidised by the ratepayer.

The airport also operated at a loss last year, costing £168,000 more to run than it raised through fees and charges.

In a surprise move in March, councillors voted to increase these fees by 10%, adding around £100,000 to the bill of the sole operator at the airport, Skybus.

On top of this, the work to refurbish the runways and terminal overspent by £600,000.

The Council is hoping to get some of that back from European funders, although it’s not certain they’ll get the money. There won’t be a decision on that until September.

Radio Scilly understands that Mr Leijser asked councillors to come up with some ideas on how to stem the losses.

That could include setting up a separate company or tendering out the operation to a third party.

In 2012, a report by infrastructure experts Parsons Brinkerhoff made a number of suggestions, including a Newquay-style landing fee, raising more money through internet charges, gaming machines and catering concessions.

The meeting resolved that doing nothing was not an option and councillors have been asked to come back with their ideas later this year.



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