Flybe has announced that it will keep the Newquay-London route going until October 2014, The BBC has reported.
Cornwall’s only air link to London was set to be axed in March, and Flybe’s decision to keep the route operational has come about because no other firm came forward to run it. The decision is expected to give Cornwall Council time to arrange a public subsidy that will support and help run the troubled route from October onwards.
In October, the Department for Transport confirmed to Cornwall Council that the route was technically eligible for a subsidy that could amount to several million pounds each year.
In the meantime, Flybe has secured new slots, allowing its 78-seat planes to continue to fly from Newquay twice daily, morning and evening.
The terms of the ‘commercially sensitive’ deal have not been disclosed. If the complex arrangements can be made operational, the government will support an operator – not necessarily Flybe – to run the route for a four-year period, the BBC said.
The news has been widely accepted in the Duchy by business leaders, MPs and the local authority. However, Niall Duffy from Flybe said that the route was not viable without the subsidy.
‘This is a route that, without public subsidy, is not sustainable on a year-round basis,’ he said, adding: ‘If you look at Scotland, if you look at some parts of Wales, there are public subsidised routes that keep passengers on the move and I think London and the DfT need to seriously look at their commitment to rebalancing the economy.’
Cornwall councillor, Adam Paynter, said: ‘The air link between Newquay and London is vital for the economy of Cornwall.’
He said the airport was financially viable, and that the council would be working with Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the county’s MPs to secure the long-term future of a link to London.