Tuesday 4 December 2012

Skybus bosses 'work to minimise Scilly flights disruption' (BBC 4 Dec)

The BBC reported today the Steamship Company’s efforts to minimize the disruption to flights to and from Scilly after several weeks of exceptionally bad weather.  The news item also mentions the idea of hardening the runway at Lands End, an option the Steamship Company is exploring.

The BBC news item finishes by mentioning that "Residents have renewed their calls for a subsidised year-round ferry to operate to the mainland"  and that "in October Transport Minister Norman Baker said the economy on Scilly was too strong at the moment to justify a transport subsidy, similar to the one provided to the Orkneys in Scotland".

Read the rest of the BBC item here.
Read on for comment about a potential hard surface for Lands End Airport.

Comment.   With no winter ferry service (not commercially sustainable) and the cessation of the helicopter service on 31 Oct, the islanders are served only by the Skybus fixed wing service from November until late March.  A freighter runs from Penzance to Scilly 3 times a week with freight.

The Steamship Company is committed to a major programme of investment with a new terminal building and ATC tower at Lands End Airport nearing completion and a major refurbishment of the 35 year old Scillonian passenger ferry underway in Penzance Dry Dock.  They have also announced their intention to purchase an additional Twin Otter aircraft to cope with demand in the tourist season.  The cost of providing a hard surface at Lands End would be an unwelcome additional financial demand.  The alternative is to place more reliance on Newquay Airport but that doubles the length of the route and requires more aircraft to move visitors at peak times.

Lands End Airport is now a much more important part of West Cornwall’s transport infrastructure and a vital component for the island community and its economy.  It is therefore potentially eligible for EU Economic Regional Development Funding. There are many examples of ERDF grants being made to private companies for the economic benefit of the area.  Pendennis Shipyard received £500,000 from the ERDF in 2009 towards its £1.8 million dry dock extension project (details here).  ERDF usually only contributes a portion of the funding with 30% appearing typical but up for 50% has been provided in some cases.  There is a directory of projects at www.convergencecornwall.com (click here) giving many examples.

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