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Cornwall to lose London air link after easyJet refuses to resurrect Gatwick service

By CG_Steve  |  Posted: October 01, 2013

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BUDGET airline easyJet announced today that there is “insufficient demand” to pick up the Newquay to London Gatwick air link after it is scrapped by Flybe next year.

The news means Cornwall will be left without direct flights to the capital from April 2014 – a situation that experts fear could have dire repercussions for the county’s economy.

The Cornish Guardian reported last week that Newquay and St Austell MP Stephen Gilbert had launched a campaign to convince easyJet chiefs to continue the Gatwick service.

He said: “I’m absolutely gutted by easyJet’s decision. This will come as a real blow to businesses across Cornwall who rely on the air link to London to take goods and services to market and bringing investment and visitors into Cornwall.

“I will be meeting with ministers to see what additional support the Government can provide in the hope that this may change the commercial decision that easyJet have made.”

In its statement, easyJet revealed it could not justify picking up the Gatwick service, but had decided to increase summer flights to London Southend from three to four a week.

While the Southend route has proved popular, critics say the airport is too far from the capital to be attractive to holidaymakers, commuters and potential investors.

An easyJet spokeswoman said: “Following Flybe’s decision to cease operating between Newquay and London Gatwick, easyJet carefully and thoroughly examined the commercial viability of offering year round services on the route. After much consideration, all of the evidence clearly shows that there is insufficient demand to sustain such a service using an A319 aircraft with 156 seats.”

Flybe announced in May that it was selling all its Gatwick flight slots to easyJet for £20 million, blaming airport charges, air passenger duty and “penalistic” government policy for the decision.

It currently operates three flights a day, 7 days a week, in the summer, switching to three flights on week days and four over the weekend during the winter months.

Cornwall Council, which owns Newquay Cornwall Airport, welcomed the news that the Southend flights would be increased in the summer but added it was “disappointed” that the Gatwick link would not be resurrected.

Adam Paynter, the cabinet member for partnerships, said: “Providing a regular air link to London is very important to the economy of Cornwall and we remain in discussions with a number of other airlines to maintain this vital link. As part of these continuing discussions we will also be seeking the support of Cornwall’s six MPs and the Government to explore all options.”

Business and tourism leaders have said the loss of the Gatwick link will have a negative impact on Cornwall’s economy.

Tim Jones, of the Devon and Cornwall Business council, said: “There had been high hopes that this vital link would be maintained and the consequences of the peninsula not having a direct London link are something that will have a big impact on the Cornwall economy.

“It is now essential that the Government recognises that we suffer badly from a lack of infrastructure and that they look favourably on an application we might make to the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which is to help fund airports in remote areas.”

Malcolm Bell, head of tourist board Visit Cornwall, said: “It is disappointing from a tourism perspective and it is a missed opportunity to have more routes into Europe.”

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10 comments

  • kingofkernow  |  October 01 2013, 9:55PM

    This Sick White Elephant needs to be put down soon and put us all out of our misery. The money saved subsidising the few can then be spent on the Temple bottleneck and hopefully Carland cross to Chiverton road improvements which will benefit the masses. A local manufacturer is threatening to move out of county if the airport link is lost. Does all his factory workers fly in daily from London ? Are all his goods delivered as Air cargo ...hmmmmm! Exeter Airport is an hours drive tops for a very large amount of the population in Devon,Cornwall,Somerset and Dorset. If an airlink is vital to your business then move closer to Exeter !

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  • hstmtu4000  |  October 01 2013, 8:50PM

    You have to ask the question why did Flybe sell the Gatwick slots to Easy Jet in the first place. The answer, big price hikes in those precious Gatwick landing slots meant using small turbo prop aircraft was clearly no longer cost effective. Clearly then using Easy Jets A319 jet aircraft with 156 seats without sufficient demand to fill them economically would be even less cost effective than the smaller turbo props used now. Even when Air South west combined both Newquay and Plymouth passengers in the Gatwick route it was becoming uneconomic to operate without subsidy. The sad fact is that Newquay Airport has been steadily loosing passengers for several years and without subsidy from Cornwall Council would have already folded. It is going to become harder and harder for the cash strapped Cornwall Council to justify carrying on subsidising Newquay airport in these times of draconian public spending cuts. There are no sacred cows, not even Newquay airport.

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  • josdave  |  October 01 2013, 7:02PM

    There is insufficient demand for the service and no good economic reason why OUR money should be used to prop up a private concern which very few people use while at the same time refusing to subsidise rural bus services which in many cases are the lifeline of rural communities.

    Rate   10
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  • josdave  |  October 01 2013, 7:01PM

    There is insufficient demand for the service and no good economic reason why OUR money should be used to prop up a private concern which very few people use while at the same time refusing to subsidise rural bus services which in many cases are the lifeline of rural communities.

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  • RuthP  |  October 01 2013, 6:45PM

    Our links with the capital need to be saved. As a user of Newquay Airport & the link to Gatwick, I'm disappointed to see this link cancelled. There is a huge demand for this route, but not on the size of the Easyjet planes. A company needs to be found that would maybe do just one return flight daily, with perhaps more in the summer. The council need to try their hardest to ensure we don't lose this important link as the Cornish economy will be adversely affected. The Airport Development Tax has never bothered me, it's a small price to pay to keep our link with London. After all, who wants to spend 5 hours on a train which cost as much as a flight? The car parking fees are fair and reasonable. However, introducing a car parking charge for dropping off and picking up is just being greedy. Come on Cornwall Council, pull your finger out & save this vital link!

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  • DipStick  |  October 01 2013, 5:03PM

    @thepowz: so where is this demand for flights? And you're not telling me that easyjet/flybe/whoever haven't thought of using smaller planes on less travelled routes? You can't blame that on the airports management. Though I'll give you that the council should NOT be running a commercial undertaking such as this ( there's better ways to spend council tax payers money - especially by NOT spending it at all so we pay less). That's not to say a private company wouldn't do any better. If there's no demand then ..... DS

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  • billly  |  October 01 2013, 4:16PM

    I agree with dipstick, if there is insufficient demand, plus this is not the first time an airline has pulled out from what I gather, then the writer of this article and others must accept that.....there is insufficient demand! Clearly it will affect our nations economy not a jot! Its like you're asking us to believe something while at the same time telling us it isnt true, or have I missed something?

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  • thepowz  |  October 01 2013, 2:34PM

    Crikey DS If you all write like you no wonder there's no demand for flights. Take a breath, write properly. There is a big demand for London flights. Big problem is that Easyjet use medium sized aircraft. Maybe one flight up and one back a day may have been sustainable. However, the buck stops at Airport Management that are overpaid, lazy and just cannot basically be bothered fighting their corner. Get them out and look at a more commercially viable company than Cornwall Council that may be able to make a go of it. DS you'd do a cracking Jethro cover act.

    Rate   5
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  • Gadgetman  |  October 01 2013, 2:24PM

    First FlyBe and now easyjet pull out of Newquay-Gatwick route. How long will it be before they pull out of all the routes. I blame incompetent and arrogant management running the airport. Everyone dislikes paying the developement tax, the car parking charges are a fiasco and when I have flown from Newquay, the over zealous security checks make you feel like a criminal before you even see a plane.

    Rate   8
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  • DipStick  |  October 01 2013, 1:32PM

    "" .. easyJet announced today that there is "insufficient demand" to pick up the Newquay to London Gatwick air link ... "" and "" ... experts fear could have dire repercussions for the county's economy ... "". Now there was I thinking that if there is insufficient demand for the flights then that means not many people use it which means that the county's economy can't rely on it except in a relatively minor way therefore there won't be "dire repercussions". And breathe ..... :-) So, what have I missed? DS

    Rate   13
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