REGIONAL airline Flybe has stepped in to help passengers “left in the lurch” by easyJet’s decision to scrap flights between Newquay and Southend.
It will take on the route next summer, operating flights three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between May 16 and September 27.
easyJet’s Newquay-Southend service was launched to much fanfare in June last year and carried almost 8,000 passengers during the summer.
However, bosses announced earlier this month that they planned to scrap the flights and reimburse passengers who had already bought tickets.
In an announcement today, Flybe said it was happy to pick up the service “abruptly dropped by easyJet recently leaving many people in the lurch”.
Paul Simmons, Flybe’s chief commercial officer, said: “It was an easy decision to keep this route alive. Summer air services to Cornwall are an essential part of the tourism jigsaw that supports the South West’s leisure economy and Flybe is pleased to step in with an extended four-month summer season this year.
“It’s a win-win for everyone and demonstrates our commitment to Cornwall and to supporting the local economy through the development of fast, frequent and affordable leisure and business travel options.”
Al Titterington, managing director of Newquay Cornwall Airport, added: “This is great news from Flybe and a real boost for the airport as well as for Cornwall.
“We cannot overstate the importance of maintaining and developing leisure services into the county that help support the tourism economy. It’s critical for the region and so we’re naturally delighted that Flybe has stepped in to maintain this seasonal route from Southend.”
Flybe still intends to axe its service to London Gatwick on October 25 this year, despite having pushed the date back from March 30. The company blames sky-high landing charges at Gatwick for its decision.
It is hoped a government subsidy, called a Public Service Obligation (PSO), can be secured that will allow an airline to operate flights to London from November.
The subsidy is open to regions where air links are proving unprofitable, but are considered vital to the local economy. Under a PSO, cash would be handed to an airline to ensure the Newquay to Gatwick route remained profitable.
Newquay Cornwall Airport is currently subsidised by taxpayers through Cornwall Council to the tune of around £3 million a year.