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Council could have to pay more to keep Newquay airport open

Council could have to pay more to keep Newquay airport open

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 5:47am 13th March 2020.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council may have to pay more to keep Newquay airport open following the collapse of regional airline FlyBe.

The warning was made to councillors just as the airport was announcing that it had managed to cut the amount of money the council is having to pay for running it.

Cornwall Airport Newquay comes under the umbrella of Corserv, the company wholly owned by Cornwall Council which also includes Cormac and Cornwall Housing.

Corserv managing director Cath Robinson told councillors this week that the subsidy paid by the council for the airport had reduced from £2.8 million to £1.1m a year. In 2020 Corserv had predicted it could drop to £840,000.

However she then warned that this was likely to rise following the collapse last week of FlyBe, which provided a number of flights from the airport.

heathrow Flybe plane

She said passenger numbers had been rising consistently in recent years which had helped to reduce the amount the council has had to pay to keep the airport open.

“It will be a success story again but obviously the FlyBe situation hit us hard last Wednesday,” she said.

“We are actively going out to market the airport and we are talking to the airlines to try and get back some of the flights.

“It is very, very challenging as many of them have been hit by the coronavirus and the airlines are downsizing.

“Hopefully we will have some good news for you shortly.”

Corserv managing director, Cath Robinson

Councillors were told that the airport would be going out to tender this week to try to secure an operator for the Newquay to London route, which is protected by a Public Service Obligation (PSO) agreed between the council and the government to protect it.

nqy airport

Mrs Robinson also told councillors that Loganair had stepped in to take on some services from Newquay.

She said it was unknown how much the subsidy could increase by.

She added: “This will have a significant impact. We were on target to deliver but we are now looking at what that impact will be.”

Pete Andrew, chairman of Corserv, added: “We are trying to do everything we can to get the services back up and running. But coronavirus will make that a lot harder.”

Councillor Paul Wills said that Corserv and the airport should be “congratulated” for reducing the subsidy being paid year on year.

He said: “Taking the situation as it stands, if there is a delay in taking over routes and services do you expect that subsidy to rise in the next 12 months from the projected £0.84m?”

He was told that it was expected that it would increase.

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