Skybus To Expand Services Next Year

skybus twin ottersFor the second year running, Skybus are expanding their service. And once again they say that their new schedules represent the largest ever flying programme in their history.

Chief Executive Rob Goldsmith says acquisition of an additional Islander aircraft back in July means they can offer even more options than in 2015.

One of the most noticeable changes will be a longer operating day. Flights from the mainland will depart at 8am and the last flights from Scilly will leave as late as 6.15pm.

The 2016 schedule will include additional mid-week services to and from Exeter, with up to five flights being offered on some days.

Rob says Skybus will be able to increase air travel capacity by up to 10% and the company is altering the fare structure to encourage a more even distribution of passengers.

He says there is an “over-dependence” on Saturday travel and that is beginning to distort the planning for future sustainable investments in transport capacity by air and sea.

There is also a ten-fold difference in passenger volumes between the busiest summer period and winter.

The company say they will attempt to flatten the peaks and troughs in demand by incentivising people to travel at quiet times with reduced fares. Tickets will cost more at the most congested times.

Rob says this is standard practice amongst most air and rail operators but he says the range between minimum and maximum fares will be much lower than other transport operators.

The new ‘sophisticated’ pricing will be actively managed so it is responsive to seasonal change.

Skybus say that they will no longer offer a 50% refund of the difference in fares for passengers who are transferring from air to sea. They say it has been “a burden” for hotel customers and confusing for some members of the public when they have been pursuing compensation.

Over the next year the company will be evaluating options for replacing their boats and they’ll investigate possible improvements in the passenger experience at Penzance Quay.

There’ll also be discussions with GWR trains and Flybe over coordination of schedules.

There should be fewer cancellations, too.

Rob says that the weather this summer has been “extraordinary” but he hopes that the new EGNOS system will improve resilience next year.

The navigation technology will mean some flights will be able to operate in conditions that currently prevent flying. Back in July, Rob told us that estimates last year suggested over 400 flights that didn’t operate would have flown if EGNOS had been in place.

The system will become active at Land’s End next spring.



33 Responses to Skybus To Expand Services Next Year

  1. Al November 7, 2015 at 11:36 am

    It has been pointed out countless times in these columns and detailed elsewhere that capital and/or revenue transport grants are available for isolated European communities and is the norm. But simply tripping of to Westminster or Brussels and demanding ‘loads of money’ without any needs assessment or business strategy, and rightly, you will be shown the door. The Steamship Company is only obligated to make a profit for its shareholders and, as any commercial enterprise would, gifted with a monopoly situation as with Scilly, exploit this to its maximum. (I understand the airport is soon to be hived off to another private monopoly which will add to these problems.) You or I may not like it but that’s ‘the system’, one that will never allow the Steamship Co to meet fully the needs of a community like Scilly. This responsibility lies with Council and its democratically elected members who have decided not to develop any plans to apply for subsidy. Their choice.

  2. Mr Wilbur Wright November 6, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    When you book a flight on Skybus you have a 50/50 chance of that flight taking place, be it booked for tomorrow, next week or next month. This makes it impossible to plan a journey with any confidence.

    The boat on the other hand, although boring and poorly timed (for anyone), will get you on and off the islands, even if you do have to get to PZ and stupid o’clock in the morning or miss the 19:18 train to London as the boat gets in at 19:15.

    Now we are into the winter months, and after this weekend there is no more boat until March, meaning that we are going to be depending upon the two planes a day, and if this week is anything to go by that is going to be as reliable as brewing tea in a chocolate teapot.

    The best thing the ISSco could do for the islands is stop playing aeroplanes and just concentrate on a ‘good’ all year round boat service.

  3. countrydweller November 6, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    They dont give a dam, blue sky,sunshine and guess what,flying cancelled for the day at lunchtime.God help them if the Helicopters ever returned.

  4. HG November 6, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Alas, this is what happens when you have an unregulated monopoly.

    Either we get a competitor in, or the Steamship Co. is split up (ferry v. air?), or new regulation is introduced (would have to be done by HM Gov. / Parliament).

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins November 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Its not so much the SSco or their monopoly but that it seems that the Councils transport policy amounts to asking the SSco if they think our transport is sufficient and then accepting their inevitable answer, when in fact we needed a comprehensive and impartial assessment of our needs and then go about achieving them. In 2013 half the inter island boats were up for sale and BIH had just finished . After a record bad winter when transport was at the top of the national agenda and just before a general election was an ideal time. Thanks to the electorate and their representatives these opportunities were squandered. We are restricted to nitpicking over minor issues and spending the grant money on largely pointless projects instead of using it for what it was meant for ie safeguarding and helping make a self supporting economy. Far from this the LA clearly expects their future to be accessing grants to keep its wheels turning. There is already vast amounts of public money spent on individual services instead of overlapping them to provide better value to the population. We have school boats ,council boats, doctors boats ,mail boats and freight launches + dozens of private trips and association boats all doubling up their services so that you might get 4 boats in 2 minutes and then nothing scheduled for two days! Then there is medical flights and a Royal mail subsidised mail service + many millions in grant funding for far from essential projects.
      We can manage without another swimming pool etc but we cannot be a competitive tourist destination nor anything else when we start on the back foot with the extra cost and delay causing inefficiency . Its not so much that Scilly will ever be accessible at all times but making sure that when it is possible, we have the best we can, which I simply don’t think is the case. It seems crazy to have all this grant money sloshing around yet the cost of transport has to cover all future vessel procurements! A competitor would cause transport failure but it seems it could be the only way that some will see it from their non monopoly customers perspective!

    • Peter November 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      HG: I agree that this is what happens when there’s a monopoly, but if only the solutions were as simple as you suggest. This is the free market (or is it?). We can’t just “get a competitor in” as if we can instruct Flybe, Cityjet or Blue Islands “you will now operate flights to Scilly”. It has to be made an attractive and viable proposition for a competitor to run flights to Scilly, and I think that’s going to be extremely unlikely, given the befuddled nature of Scilly Council, and the feudal mindset of the airport’s imminent new managers, The Duchy. Likewise, IoSSSCo is a private business and we can’t just break up a private company. So, as I keep saying, with total economic reliance on tourism, massive transport problems and no hope of a resolution, Scilly is doomed.
      By the way, this news item started as a supposedly positive one – Skybus to expand services – and it’s been met by readers with contempt. We need to ask why.

      • HG November 7, 2015 at 10:22 am

        So… what is your solution to the problem? An awful lot of words written by Adam and Peter there, but no actual solutions.

        Stop moaning about the Council – it’s not their remit to sort out flights or the ferry! What do you expect them to actually do? Do you understand the limited powers or resources the Council has? It’s not the Scottish Government…

        • Adam Morton, St.Martins November 7, 2015 at 9:09 pm

          This is where you are WRONG. The Council is the highest authority we have here, If they don’t do anything who will? You think individuals going up to Whitehall like FRIST did, is going to work? Then only to be undercut by our Council working against us! Our Council is or was a Unitary Authority and has long prided itself on its unique responsibilities due to our location. Now thanks to Messrs Leijser & Martin it has become little more than a parish Council capable of diddly squat! The Council has just boasted how its handled £30m od in the last few years ,how many resources do you need?
          As a unitary Authority, a council has the duty of maintaining the highways to and in its area which in the case of an island would be a boat. The Council conducted the so called Scottish report and sat on it! They were also partners in the failed Rout Partnership bid which recognised that it DID bear at least some responsibility. Since its failure they have now conveniently decided its not their responsibility at all! Unless we at least have our Councils moral support , what hope is there? So far they appear to have done everything possible to discredit,derail and generally disperse whatever impetus for action there was.
          Private companies are expected to exploit circumstances to their own advantage but should certainly not be calling the shots on local transport policy.
          The worst part is that in fact our LA couldn’t organise the proverbial P***up in a brewery as evidenced by its poor judgement in projects that provide neither service or value to the community or economy ,take the innovation center as the most recent example!
          The Council does not have to provide the services themselves, in the case of a freight subsidy or any other, they only have to negotiate and possibly award contracts in much the same way they do the school boats etc.It will then be up to private business to win with the most efficient bids.
          When BIH were competitors, the SSco seemed only to glad to be involved in the rout scheme which although it was a failure in practice, was right in principal. Far from attempting to improve anything our LA seems to be in the process of handing over £5m of airport for nothing, possibly to the SSco effectively making its monopoly total! But then we are only told anything of significance AFTER the event! The transition is now pretty much complete with Leijser, RDS,Duchy and SSco calling all the shots. Most everyone else has left or works for them!

        • Peter November 8, 2015 at 10:34 am

          HG: Pot calling kettle, I think! You accuse me of not offering solutions. I have done so here many times, but get slagged off. So, what is YOUR solution? Specifically, what are the steps involved in “getting a competitor in”?

  5. S Moore November 5, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I had a friend who came over yesterday. He was due to fly from Newquay but even though the sky was clear at both Newquay and St Mary’s, Skybus said no flying, all passengers being transferred to the boat. Being cynical one might think they’ve done this on purpose as the boat was empty and it saves on aviation fuel and landing fees etc.

    Today my friend was due to fly back, but all flights have been cancelled due to the weather, even though it cleared up for a while this afternoon. Now for the really annoying part.
    Skybus have already told him that there will be no flying tomorrow and they have transferred him to the boat, he then had to ask for a refund for the difference between the plane ticket and the boat ticket, at no time was this information offered, it had to be asked for.

    Then he asked who would be paying for the additional cost of another unplanned nights accommodation, answer, not Skybus.

    Then he asked how he was going to get from Penzance to Newquay where he had flown out from and where his car is parked. He was told a bus would be laid on but he would have to pay for it, but they could not tell him how much this would be.

    If this were your experience, as a customer, how would this make you feel?
    And its not like he has any other choice, he is (as are we all) completely at the mercy of the ISSco.

  6. Jan Cardew November 2, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Is it true, aTwin Otter does not have radar? If so, why not? So much sea fog this Summer, surely radar is essential.

    • A wannabe pilot November 2, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      A radar is only used for detected objects and terrain in the route surrounding you, it does not indicate the height, start and end of a runway…u

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins November 5, 2015 at 7:11 am

      Even big airliners from international airports have been stranded for the past few days, its a risk not worth taking . There was fog and no fly days for half of August this year and the same in September the year before which goes to show how travel by air cannot be made “resilient” beyond hardened runways, and why much more attention needs to be directed towards the sea links rather than as an afterthought.
      People want to go on holiday when the weather is nice and a large number are tied to school holidays. Trying to put them off in peak times with higher fares wont cause them to come at other times.

  7. Dave T November 2, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    We were knocked down to the Boat last year and only knew about the 50% refund because one of the passengers have relatives on Scilly, in fact no one on the flight knew they could claim. Why have Skybus kept this quiet? Burdensome. I doubt it! If no one knew they could claim in the first place. We are flying again next year but the cost has gone up by £94.00. 2 passengers one dog. If they continue like this it will not matter how many flights there are no one will use it.

    • Klaus Botem-Teeklar November 4, 2015 at 7:06 am

      Why do you think that the IOSSSCO cancel flights and put people in the boat whenever they can? Just another example of their poor service, not the staff in the office who do a great job, but the Scillonian directors who just want your money.

      • Mrs E Windsor November 4, 2015 at 10:26 am

        And they’ve done it again today, boat half full, so lets cancel all the flights (blame it on the non existent fog) save a fortune in aviation fuel and landing fees. Its impossible to plan any journey on or off these islands with any certainty.
        The ISSco really should be taken to task on the regularity that they do this.

        • Alex November 4, 2015 at 12:02 pm

          I know it might seem that way but there are strict weather rules on when an aircraft can and cannot fly – be it the weather on St Mary’s, the mainland or en-route. The new EGNOS will help but there are some conditions in which no flights can take place unless you have ground based ILS equipment such as that installed at Heathrow and the pilots are trained to fly in such conditions.

          Whenever I notice that flights are cancelled or on hold I check the aviation weather forecast and without fail I can understand why they do not fly in the conditions. P.S. I have not connection with IOSSSCO.

        • Peter November 4, 2015 at 1:02 pm

          I’m trying to give up posting on here because it’s largely pointless, but I have to come to the defence of the Steamship Company. We have always found them to be helpful and customer focused over the years. Last summer, in terrible weather, we were called and regularly updated by their friendly and polite staff re the unlikelihood of flying. We got transferred to the boat. On arrival in St Marys we went to the Steamship Company office and had our 50% refund immediately credited to our card without question. Call me naive, but I very much doubt that they cancel flights just to save money. It would annoy customers, which I’m sure they know would be bad business. It seems that some people on here are really quite paranoid about the Steamship Company. Scilly is an extraordinarily difficult place for planes to land and take off, with regular sea fogs and the direction of the prevailing winds often making landing on the wrongly aligned main runway impossible.
          Having said that, the Steamship Company is not wonderful: the facilities at Penzance dock are a disgrace and way below what a modern traveller expects. And Skybus needs some competition to drive down prices and improve the whole experience, but that will never happen because potential competitors would want to fly slightly bigger planes and that is impossible due to the runways which will never be lengthened, as has been made abundantly clear, even though similar projects have been successful elsewhere in the world. If I were a Skybus director, I’d be campaigning against lengthening the runways, as it would open the doors to competition. So now I just become boring again going over the same old ground about why Scilly is ultimately doomed as a holiday destination.

          • Pete November 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm

            Peter. Why give up posting. Your entitled to your opinions. As for people moaning about the steam ship co. If you lived our here and you travelled to the mainland occasionally the fares cripple you. If you travel on the steamer you have to book overnight accommodation. Not cheap in Penzance in the summer and most places only accept two nights bookings.

          • yankee November 6, 2015 at 12:36 pm

            Peter, you are unfortunately very naive then. You only have to wait for the bus to depart for the quay before check in opens

  8. Roger Fuller November 1, 2015 at 9:44 am

    The headline says expanding their service, like it used to fly to Bristol and Southampton etc and now it will do more than its ever done before,so I thought that meant that they would do this again and add another couple of destination but no! it was spin…

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins November 1, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Agreed. I completely understand the commitment to short flights from their own airport as it is the most economical & environmental way forward, however I doubt the intentions of using these efficiencies to the customers advantage!This would normally be safeguarded by competition.

  9. Jenny October 30, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    If your flight is cancelled and you are transferred to the boat, then you can claim back the airport fees, which are part of the cost of your air ticket. It was about £12.50. So may people do not do this. It is your money.

  10. Polruan Peter October 30, 2015 at 11:19 am

    In June my wife and and I were transferred from air to sea on both outward and return journeys. Nobody mentioned a refund. Can we still apply?

  11. a local who is not on the council October 30, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Aw C’mon Skybus how about Lands end to London Docklands twice daily?

    I do not think there will be any enthusiasm for this suggestion.

  12. Adam Morton, St.Martins October 30, 2015 at 9:26 am

    “Skybus say that they will no longer offer a 50% refund of the difference in fares for passengers who are transferring from air to sea”. Does that mean its now 100% or nothing? I can’t see that paying for a flight but getting a passage on SCIII as well as missing all your connections and forking out for B&B is going to be a big attraction! Its good to hear they are finally looking at vessel replacement-14 days of no flying in August means they are going to need all the capacity they can get if we are to keep any credibility as a destination.

  13. Mr Smith October 29, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Aw C’mon Skybus how about Lands end to London Docklands twice daily?

    • Citrus October 30, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Couple of flights a week to London would be great.

      • Mr Wilbur Wright October 30, 2015 at 3:39 pm

        Sure would. but at Skybus prices probably not realistic unless the council are paying to send one of their own up to a meeting in town

      • Ian T. October 30, 2015 at 6:54 pm

        But at what price? It would be cheaper to fly to Newquay and then onwards by FlyBe or whatever surely?

        • Fred Uplistening October 31, 2015 at 5:29 pm

          Flights don’t coincide. Are you surprised?

          • Lambsy November 1, 2015 at 8:50 am

            No, but although I don’t live on the Islands anymore and a lot of time I just repeat what everyone already knows or the glaringly obvious l still need to comment, it’s my right.

  14. Alex October 29, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Perhaps a good way to reduce the dependence on Saturday flights would be to fly on Sundays. For many people a midweek to midweek holiday is not convenient and they have little option to fly at the weekend. It seems that the public are expected to fit in with the service provider and not the other way around.