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Newquay Airport reaction to Flybe scrapping London Gatwick service and passenger numbers fall

By CG_Steve  |  Posted: May 23, 2013

  • Newquay Cornwall Airport has been dealt a double blow today

  • Newquay Cornwall Airport has been dealt a double blow today

Comments (13)

UPDATE 2.45PM: NEWQUAY Cornwall Airport has responded to news that Flybe will scrap its London service from next March, saying it signified “no loss in confidence in the airport’s viability”.

Managing director Al Titterington also commented on statistics revealed today that show passenger numbers have dropped for the fifth year running.

In a statement he said: “The sale of the slots was not an unexpected announcement given Gatwick Airport’s strategy over the last few years to out price smaller regional aircraft operators such as Flybe. The Airport has been in discussions with several other carriers in respect of operating a daily return service from Newquay to London.

“Nearly 100,000 passengers used the busy London route in 2012 providing valuable connectivity to the business community so we are confident another airline will see the value of the opportunity.We wish to confirm there is no expected disruption to our current three daily flights to Gatwick or the other services operated by Flybe in our 2013-14 schedule and Flybe will continue their normal operations until March 29, 2014.

“Although the loss of this route by Flybe is a blow it does not signify any loss of confidence in the airport’s viability to deliver essential services to the residents of Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The airport is a key part of the transport infrastructure serving the South West and is a vital gateway for travellers visiting Cornwall.

“We are very aware that since 2008 the passenger numbers have been in decline with the 2012-13 financial year figures being around 173,000. Far from ignoring this, the airport team is proactively pursuing several opportunities for services from Newquay. Examples of this are the new EasyJet routes and the expanding availability of package holidays. Several factors that contributed to the decline in passenger numbers were out of our control, such as Air Southwest ceasing to operate in its entirety in September 2011.

“Alongside the passenger business we are building up a significant and sustainable revenue channel from other aerodrome activities, such as property rental and development. We are confident that Newquay Cornwall Airport is well placed to serve the region’s demand for air travel.”


NEWQUAY Cornwall Airport has suffered a double blow today as passenger figures reveal a drop for the fifth consecutive year and Flybe announces plans to scrap its London flights.

The airline will stop running its Gatwick service on March 29 next year, blaming airport charges, air passenger duty and “penalistic” government policy for the decision.

It has sold all of its arrival and departure slots at Gatwick to rival company Easyjet for £20 million.

The Cornish Guardian understands that other Flybe services from Newquay - to Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Norwich - will be unaffected.

Passengers will still be able to fly to the capital with Easyjet, which will begin flights to London Southend from June 20 this year.

Jim French, Flybe’s Chairman and Chief Executive, criticised Gatwick bosses for pricing regional airlines out of operating at their airport with an increase in charges of 102 per cent.

He said: “No business can swallow such a massive increase in such a short period of time and it is with real regret and some anger that we have made this decision. Flybe fully appreciates the implications this will have not only on South West passengers but also on the wider regional economy which has come to rely on the convenient lifeline connections we provide to Gatwick.

“However, we have to accept the ugly reality that Gatwick simply doesn’t want smaller, regional aircraft at their airport and, with the absence of a regional aviation strategy and the government’s penalistic and ludicrous policy of charging Air Passenger Duty (APD) on both legs of a domestic flight, I’m afraid it’s inevitable that high frequency services from the UK’s regions will ultimately be squeezed out of Gatwick, as they have been from Heathrow.”

The news comes as statistics reveal Newquay Cornwall Airport served 174,000 passengers last year – 25,000 fewer than in 2011.

In 2008, 431,000 passengers used the airport. But the following year that figure had dropped to 347,000 and numbers have continued to drop.

Air South West, which had been responsible for 45 per cent of passengers. pulled out of the airport in September 2011. BMI Baby which ran regular services to and from Cornwall went out of business last year.

The airport is subsidised by Cornish taxpayers to the tune of around £3 million a year.

Newquay and St Austell MP Stephen Gilbert said: “The link between London and Cornwall is absolutely vital for Cornwall’s economy; providing a route to market in the south east of England and further afield for Cornish goods and services, as well as an efficient link for visitors to get to Cornwall.

“I am disappointed that Flybe are not able to continue with this route but hopeful that EasyJet’s operation will be of sufficient scale to ensure it continues. I have already spoken to EasyJet today and look forward to continuing to work with them over the coming weeks.”

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  • tim_bucktoo  |  May 25 2013, 9:09AM

    @wringer. Manchester Airport operates without subsidy. It returns a profit which is paid as dividends to the 10 owning councils! Happy days!!

    Rate   5
  • Fistral20  |  May 24 2013, 1:48PM

    If you mean Newquay as a resort taco, apart from the fantastic beaches, hotels, restaurants, bars, views, walks and people, I really can't think of any reason either....

    Rate   -5
  • tacovdaslived  |  May 24 2013, 12:48PM

    Why would anyone want to fly to Newquay?

    Rate   -2
  • BradleyJJS  |  May 24 2013, 11:59AM

    Wringer that is one of the most utilitarian well thought out cogent counter I have read on these forums, like most stories surrounding the council people often forget how limited funds are and what other services are losing funding, in the grand scheme of the county of Cornwall this should not have so much funds directed towards it. I await the arguments about repaying Europe if the council funds are stopped. I hope the new council has a spring clean of these carbuncle schemes and stick to proper prioritising of funding based on merit, not who shouts the loudest or throws the best threats around, the council should serve the people of Cornwall not the yaya second home jet setters of rock

    Rate   4
  • xak13  |  May 24 2013, 11:40AM

    So falling passenger numbers, loss of another route ? how much more signs do these people need that there is no confidence in NQY airport. If the routes had been profitable, and passenger numbers growing, the new owners of Air Southwest would have kept the route open, Flybe would not have sold their landing slots and Easy jet would be chomping at the bit to take the route open. I am afraid something drastic has to be done before NQY becomes another statistic.

    Rate   5
  • wringer  |  May 24 2013, 11:03AM

    So Jeremy it took 10 councils to set this up not one. what is the income/subsidy like for these airports and how many people live and work in the 10 boroughs that set this up. the fact remains that if this was such a fantastic business opportunity then a private business would have taken it on years ago. it isn't. it will always run at a loss due to location and potential footfall. Aeroskills - clearly you have a vested interest in the area. how much in subsidies has the newquay airport development area had then? and remember, this is public/tax payers money too proving that this part of the development is also not viable without huge sums of public money being poured into it. why oh why do we in Cornwall think something is successful when it can only be so when being propped up by the public purse. (think Eden and the huge sums of grant it gets from various sources) REAL businesses don't get these sort of breaks. they have to stand and fall on what they do and make a profit.

    Rate   9
  • BobToronto  |  May 23 2013, 8:35PM

    In addition to my request below. Please note the following. Heathrow has two runways, Stansted, one and Gatwick one. Cornwall needs excellent communications with the outside world for businessmen and tourists. Newquay is never going to have direct flights to and from Rio, Hong Kong or Toronto and probably never to Rome, Stockholm or Moscow. Therefore frequent flights to Heathrow, not Gatwick or Stansted is necessary. My wife has returned to Toronto (four runways) from Cornwall. Luckily she was met at and returned to Heathrow by relatives. Many are not so lucky. Waiting for her at the international section of the Toronto terminal I could see the many travelers, having cleared customs etc. transferring to domestic flights. It seems very few domestic flights exist to and from Heathrow. A businessman from Cornwall going to any of the cities above will likely spend an extra day travelling to and from Heathrow. A local SE England businessman would not waste the two days. Time is money. With frequent flights to Heathrow the economics of Newquay could be transformed. Perhaps Mr Rogerson's salary and expenses could be saved and put towards the Newquay costs.

    Rate   7
  • JeremyBadger  |  May 23 2013, 8:12PM

    Ringer: Manchester Airports Group was formed in 2001 by Greater Manchester's 10 metropolitan borough councils. Manchester City Council owns a 55% majority share with the other nine local authorities owning 5% each. It is the UK's second largest airport operator and now owns Manchester, Nottingham East Midlands, Bournemouth, Humberside and Stanstead Airports.

    Rate   6
  • BobToronto  |  May 23 2013, 8:09PM

    What has Mr Rogerson have to say? I HAVE WRITTEN TO HIM IN THE PAST on the Heathrow and other London Airport capacity issues but no reply

    Rate   7
  • Aeroskills  |  May 23 2013, 7:35PM

    The truth of the matter is that Newquay Airport is becoming more commercially viable from a support services perspective. The airport is a huge development area and businesses don't need planning permission to set up - as long as it's aero related. Ok, it would be great to have a huge tourist trade but it's long term plan is to provide a source of further education for aero related skills. It'll bring loads of specialist money into the county. You have to remember that it has a huge runway capable of landing most aircraft (remember Concorde landing there). The airport has a vision beyond tourism - just give it a chance.

    Rate   8