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Cornish officials rule out operating flights to London

Cornish officials rule out operating flights to London

Published by Emma Carton at 8:38am 16th January 2020. (Updated at 8:44am 16th January 2020)

Written by Local Democracy Reporter Richard Whitehouse and Emma Carton

The leader of Cornwall Council has ruled out the possibility of the authority operating flights to London saying it would be a "stretch too far".

Julian German, independent leader of the council, made the comments after Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated that the Government was unlikely to bail out Flybe, the troubled airline which operates the route from Newquay to London.

The route between Cornwall and London is subject to a Public Service Obligation (PSO) which means it is protected and is subsidised by the government.

However the service is dependent on an operator being available to run it and if Flybe were to fold there would be doubts about the future of the service.

flybe london southend
The leader of Cornwall Council has ruled out the possibility of the authority operating flights to London

 

Speaking on Tuesday morning Cllr German said that the route between Newquay and London was viable and the passenger numbers using it means it is profitable.

He said that because of this he believed that it would be likely that an operator would come in to take it on if Flybe collapsed.

Earlier, during a meeting of the customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee Councillor Paul Wills asked whether the council would step in if the Government was unwilling or unable to do so.

Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service to respond Cllr German said: "The route is profitable and we can show that the number of people using it means that it is viable.

"The PSO is in place but that does need an operator. I think that there would be a good case for a private operator to come in and take it over if necessary.

"Because it is viable it could be something that the council could do but our priority has to be our core services, things like Adult Social Care, our roads and other services. 

"I think it would be a stretch too far".

Cllr German

heathrow Flybe plane
Cornwall Council leader, Julian German, said operating flights to London would be a "stretch too far", as Flybe secured a rescue deal

 

Cllr German said that the council wanted to see the route continue and that it was important that it does remain in place.

The BBC reported that Tim Jeans, chairman of Cornwall Airport, said Flybe was "very important not just to our airport but to regions, to nations and to island communities across the UK.

"They provide lifeline services to destinations across the rest of the UK that simply are not replicated by either other airlines or convenient and affordable train services".

Chairman of Cornwall Airport Newquay, Tim Jeans

Figures show that almost 66% of all flights operating out of Newquay are run by Flybe.

Flybe had asked the government whether it could defer a tax bill of around £100million for air passenger duty to help it survive.

Late on Tuesday night, it was confirmed ministers had reached a deal with the struggling airline's parent company.

On Wednesday I-A-G, the owner of British Airways, complained to the European Union about the deal, which allows Flybe to postpone paying some of its taxes.

Chief Executive of the International Airlines Group, Willie Walsh, believes the deal represents a "blatant misuse of public funds".

"Flybe is made up of an incredible team of people, serving millions of loyal customers who rely on the vital regional connectivity that we provide.

"This is a positive outcome for the UK and will allow us to focus on delivering for our customers and planning for the future".

Flybe Chief Executive, Mark Anderson

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