FLYBE is to double its Newquay-Gatwick service to six flights a day following storm damage to the only rail route into Cornwall.
The Exeter-based airline will increase its daily flights from Wednesday, February 12, to provide an alternative route for rail passengers.
The Great Western line was severed at Dawlish on the South Devon coast last Wednesday, after storms destroyed the track that runs along the shore.
Flybe has now tweaked its flight programme to free up a 118-seat Embraer 195 aircraft. The extra flights will initially operate for two weeks, while demand for the 4,500 additional seats is assessed.
Newquay Cornwall Airport’s managing director, Al Titterington, said: “The current situation regarding the disruption to train services which have been affected by the weather, is causing major travel issues for people in the South West.
“The confirmation of Flybe operating the additional flights to and from Newquay to Gatwick is well received and will certainly go some way to alleviating the current headaches travellers are experiencing.
“Flybe’s one way fares between Newquay and London Gatwick compare extremely favourably with those offered by the county’s rail services and offer a flight time of just over an hour. The rail link between Penzance and Paddington normally takes well over six hours and this time will likely be substantially increased with replacement coach services needed whilst repairs to the vital rail line are made in Devon.”
Paul Simmons, Flybe’s Chief Commercial Officer said: “We have no wish to take advantage of this very difficult situation by inflating fares and can assure our customers that our fares’ policy will be managed in exactly the same way as always.”
An online petition has since been launched by Peter Robson, calling on the government to re-open the railway line connecting Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock to form a new route in and out of Cornwall.
He said: “There has been a longstanding wish to see an alternative rail route into Cornwall, with an extension of the Exeter to Okehampton line, through Tavistock to Plymouth. Faced with the clear threat to the Dawlish line, sharply focused on due to the February storms, this is now a priority.”
To sign the petition, visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60302