Cornwall’s threatened only air link to London will continue, it has been announced.
FlyBe is expected to announce today that it will keep the Newquay to London Gatwick route, which was due to be axed in March, running until October 25 next year.
The move will give Cornwall Council, who owns Newquay Cornwall airport, more time to gain public funding to secure the route’s uncertain future.
In October, following discussions with Cornwall Council, the Department of Transport confirmed that route was technically eligible for a subsidy.
However, the complex process is not likely to be completed until autumn 2014, which would have meant the brakes would been slammed on the route.
Flybe’s expected announcement will provide the time to secure an operator, supported by the government, to run the route for a four-year period.
The announcement has been welcomed by Cornwall Council, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Cornwall’s six MPs, who have been working together over the past few months to secure the long term future of the vital air link.
Adam Paynter, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Partnerships, said: “This is very good news for Cornwall.
“The air link between Newquay and London is vital for the economy of Cornwall and I am delighted that Flybe has decided to continue to operate the service next summer.
“I would like to formally thank the LEP and our MP’s for their support in exploring ways of maintaining this link and look forward to continuing to work with them and the Government over securing the route in the longer term”.
Chris Pomfret, the chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The provision of a regular year round service to a London hub airport with a schedule that works for businesses is vital to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“I know that many businesses were very concerned about the impact of a break in the service over the summer and I am sure they will join me in welcoming Flybe’s decision.
“However, we must ensure this is the first step in delivering a long term secure daily all year round service that is so essential if Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are to improve economically.“
Newquay and St Austell MP Stephen Gilbert said: “I know I speak on behalf of all the Cornish MPs in welcoming this news and will be working with them over the coming months to make the case to Government for further support to ensure this important air service is safeguarded for the next four years.”
Flybe revealed in May that it was selling its Gatwick landing slots to rival easyJet, which recently announced its intention not to take over the service when it is scrapped at the end of March 2014.