Future remains unclear at Newquay Airport despite closure declared not an option 'no matter what' - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Future remains unclear at Newquay Airport despite closure declared not an option 'no matter what'

Saturday, 15 October 2011
An Air South West plane at Newquay Cornwall Airport (Photo: cornwall-calling.co.uk)Shortly after midday on 30th September, an Air South West plane taxied away from the terminal building and took off from the runway at Newquay Cornwall Airport. Bound for Dublin, this departure was unusually significant: it was to be the airline’s final flight, and its last from Cornwall’s principle airport. Two weeks on and the future of the airport remains uncertain despite Cornwall Council announcing it is launching a new review and that closing is not an option, “no matter what”.

In a statement published yesterday, Cornwall Council explained that there are three main options on the table – the sale of the airport, part acquisition of the site and entering into a management service agreement to operate the airport – and that “discussions with representatives of the aviation industry to assess potential interest” were underway.

The review, due to last two-months, would include market research into the airport's use and proposals from interested airlines, and the results will be presented in the New Year.

"This is certainly not a threat to the future of Newquay Cornwall Airport – in fact it is just the opposite,” Chris Ridgers, the Council’s portfolio holder for economy and regeneration , is quoted as saying. “We are very aware of the importance of a thriving and successful airport to the economy of Cornwall which provides links to key cities in both the UK and Europe. The management team at Cornwall Airport Limited have done an excellent job of operating the airport in these challenging economic times with falling passenger numbers”.

The site, formerly known as RAF St Mawgan which only opened to commercial flights in December 2008, received almost £25 million in EU funds in 2009 and is expected to receive more in the next 12 months.

The airport has seen passenger numbers decline by over a hundred thousand in the last two years; low-cost airline Ryanair ceased its routes from the airport earlier in the year, and now the withdrawal of routes said to be not 'viable' comes as another thunderous blow.

In addition, the company’s last flight from Plymouth City Airport, whose own future now looks bleak, has piled on the misery for those needing to travel to and from Cornwall with now only an A-road and a five-hour mainline train to London (itself under threat) the alternatives.

Shortly after the Air South West’s decision in July, Liberal Democrat MEP Sir Graham Watson travelled to the airport to meet its Chief Executive Al Tiverington and discuss the challenges facing the site.

Newquay Airport plays a vital role in the County to attract and service businesses,he commended afterwards. “Certainly the recent announcement by Air South West is not encouraging for the future and I say to the people of Cornwall that the phrase 'use it or lose it' could not be better applied here.

I was impressed however with Mr Tiverington's plans for the future and I hope that once the economy enters a more positive state, passenger numbers will begin to rise once more.

A small number of flights still operate from the airport including the Isles of Scilly Skybus, and seasonal flights by Lufthansa to Düsseldorf, which Flybe services to Edinburgh, London-Gatwick, and Manchester commencing the 30th October.

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