DfT signs 2nd PSO to pay £2.5 million so Flybe can profitably maintain Newquay to Gatwick route

The Government will pay £2.5 million, and Cornwall Council will pay £300,000, in a 4-year funding deal to enable Flybe to profitably operate flights between Newquay and Gatwick. The DfT says the public service obligation (PSO) will continue a link.  There will be 3 flights each way on weekdays and 2 at weekends. The aviation minister, Robert Goodwill, said keeping the region connected to London is a “vital part of our long-term economic plan” and Danny Alexander said the route ”is vital for Cornwall’s businesses, tourist industry and residents” and “with a return rate of nearly £3 for every £1 invested, it’s a great deal for the UK taxpayer, as well as for the south-west.” The DfT says Flybe will operate the flights with the timings providing a convenient schedule for a full working day [eh? holiday-makers?] at either destination.” EasyJet took over Flybe’s Gatwick slots when the service ended in March this year, but decided to drop the Newquay service. There were about 92,600 passengers flying between Gatwick and Newquay in 2013, so over 4 years the £2.8 million would be about £7.50 each. Could the fare not rise by that amount, to save having to subsidise?

Wikipedia on Newquay:

Newquay Cornwall Airport  is the main commercial airport for Cornwall, located at Mawgan in Pydar 4.6 miles  northeast of Newquay on Cornwall’s north coast.  Its runway was previously operated by RAF St Mawgan before the runway was handed over in December 2008. The airport is located close to Newquay, Cornwall’s premier tourist resort, as well as major attractions such as The Eden Project.

In 2013 the airport handled 174,891 passengers, a 5.0% increase compared with 2012. Newquay has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. The Cornwall Air Ambulance is based at the airport.

The runway is able to take the very largest and fastest of civil and military aircraft, having been built and maintained for decades as a United States Air Force.  With the end of the Cold War and changes in American political priorities, the Americans pulled out of all involvement with the base by the end of 2009.



Busiest routes to and from Newquay Cornwall Airport (2013) CAA
RankAirportPassengers handled % Change 2012 / 13
1 United KingdomLondon Gatwick92,609Decrease 4
2 United KingdomManchester32,570Increase 5
3 United KingdomIsles of Scilly22,093Increase 56
4 United KingdomLondon Southend7,448
5 United KingdomLiverpool5,848
6 United KingdomEdinburgh4,481Decrease 55
7 GermanyDüsseldorf2,407Decrease 29
8 United KingdomNewcastle2,384Decrease 8
9 United KingdomBelfast City2,187Increase 24
10 United KingdomGlasgow1,751Decrease 51

Here’s 2013 passengers by destination: 92,609 to/from Gatwick

Department for Transport signs second public service obligation to protect Newquay to London Gatwick route.

27.10.2014 (DfT Press Release)

From:Department for Transport and Robert Goodwill MP

A crucial transport link between the south west and London has been secured after the Department for Transport announced a 4 year funding deal for flights between Newquay and London Gatwick airport.

The public service obligation (PSO) will continue a link which contributes millions of pounds to the Cornwall and south west economies. The government is providing £2.5 million in addition to £300,000 from Cornwall Council. Three flights each way will take place during the week with 2 weekend rotations. Around 100,000 passengers use the route every year for work or leisure.

Flybe will operate the flights with the timings providing a convenient schedule for a full working day at either destination.

UK Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill said:

Keeping our regions connected with London is a vital part of our long term economic plan. That is why we have worked so hard with Cornwall Council to protect the route to Newquay and make sure we do all we can to support the local area.

Fast, frequent flights to the south west will unlock access to stunning landscapes and skilled businesses, benefiting the region and the UK as a whole.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

The air link between Newquay and London is vital for Cornwall’s businesses, tourist industry and residents, so I created the Regional Air Connectivity Fund and fought for £2.5 million for Newquay to ensure that this crucial service could continue. With a return rate of nearly 3 pounds for every pound invested, it’s a great deal for the UK taxpayer as well as for the south-west.

I hope this fund will help other remote areas of the UK sustain economically important connections to London too.

The Regional Air Connectivity Fund was announced by the government in June 2013. The fund is being used to maintain important regional air connections. The government doubled the size of the fund to £20 million per year in the 2014 Budget.

The 4 year length of the deal provides certainty to the region and marks the second UK government PSO, following a 2 year deal for the Dundee-London Stansted air link which was announced in June 2014.

The airport is part of Newquay Aerohub Enterprise Zone- one of 24 government-backed sites nationwide that are helping companies grow by offering top-class business incentives and world-class infrastructure. Home to Augusta Westland’s Operational Flight Training Centre and the supersonic car the Bloodhound, the Zone is positioning itself as a key centre for the aviation and space sectors and will benefit from the continued operation of these flights.

Separately, Transport Minister John Hayes today visited London City Airport to welcome the economic boost provided by the new Flybe routes connecting UK regions with London.





Newquay Airport ‘could become a rock concert venue’ – needs to earn money to stay afloat

Newquay Airport costs owner Cornwall Council about £3m a year in subsidies. It is not likely to make much profit just from its airport activities. It is now suggested the site could be used some of the time as a venue for rock concerts to help balance the books. However, a problem is the poor road links. It might also have go-kart racing and other activities, and has in the past held car shows, eco-car races, police driver training and filming of TV and commercials.  Last year passenger numbers at Newquay airport fell, for a 5th consecutive year, to 174,000, down from 431,000 in 2008/9. The airport, a former military base, was hit by Ryanair and Air Southwest pulling their flights in 2011. In autumn 2014 Newquay will lose its route to Gatwick when Flybe is set to pull out, saying the service it is not viable. The whole airport area is about 861 acres, of which some 650 acres is an Enterprise Zone and 231 acres is development land, occupied by commercial companies.  87 acres is a solar park. Newquay is also paid by the government to stay open as an emergency airfield. The runway is one of the largest in the country so any plane can land there, as one of the first possible sites for planes coming in from the west. 



Newquay Airport: Passenger numbers down and down, subsidy up and up

 17 September 2011

Posted by Oliver Baines

It’s a long time since a posting on this site, and in the meantime every confident prediction by the aviation industry, and every claim by the Newquay Airport Masterplan, has been shown to be inaccurate, wrong, or just plain misleading.

Now we’re faced with the worst of all worlds – an airport in decline, with no plans about how to manage the decline and or sustain it in the absence of massive public subsidy.

So massive public subsidy it is.  Passenger numbers were supposed to be 550,000 and rising by 2012.  Instead they are 239,246 and falling (figures based on provisional statistics for August 2011, annualised).  Meanwhile the official subsidy from Cornwall Council has risen to £3.5m, though cynical observers might consider this only part of the story.  Even at this level it means that on average a family of 4 on a holiday to Dublin, Dubrovnik or Venice, or on the first leg of the journey to their second home in the south of France, are helped by us (yes, that’s you and me) to the tune of £14.63 each – each way.  That’s a total of £117.03.

When Cornwall is moving into hard times, how is it that we subsidise people to spend their money somewhere else?  How exactly does this help Cornwall?




£19 million subsidy for south west airports


According to Guardian journalisGeorge Monbiot, The government’s South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) has spent £19m in recent years on extending the airport terminals at Bristol and Bournemouth, aircraft parking at Exeter and airport works at Plymouth and Newquay. The subsidies to Bristol Airport were made in 2004 and included £15,000 to pay for an economic assessment and greenhouse gas emissions assessment for a proposed direct scheduled service to New York and £1.5 million towards extending the terminal.

The bulk of the £19 million of SWRDA subsidies were directed at Newquay, so greatly undermining the attractiveness and potential of the existing rail link to the town. Likewise the £4+ million subsidy to Plymouth airport will give airlines a further competitive edge over rail. Now it is possible to fly from Bristol to Newquay in 45 mins for just £29 one-way which, even allowing for airport travel and check-in, is quicker and cheaper than rail (over 4 hrs, £65 off-peak return). Those low air fares owe a lot to public subsidy.

Air travel accounts for less than 1% of total UK business turnover but accounts for 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. You might think curbing the growth in air travel, particularly of domestic flights that can realistically be undertaken by rail or coach, should be the very top of the government’s environmental agenda. Instead we find them pouring millions of our money into subsidies to support air travel at the expense of rail travel.