Commenting on the announcement by British International Helicopters that it will cease its passenger service between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly from 1st November this year, the local MP, Andrew George, said:
“This is devastating news. It could have a severe impact not only on the Isles of Scilly but also on Penzance. BIH has provided an invaluable service to the Islands as the first scheduled air passenger service for nearly 50 years. It is marginally less weather dependent than its fixed wing competitor and provides an important lifeline service for the economy and community on the Islands as well as being an important part of the local economy on the mainland.
“Many of us had feared and, to a certain extent, anticipated that this may happen. It is a commercial decision and not one which public authorities can influence. That having been said, it is important that all stakeholders, including local councils, come together to explore every opportunity putting in place an alternative service if that can be achieved.
“I have already contacted the Aviation Minister (Rt. Hon Theresa Villiers MP) in the Department for Transport and have called on her for support. I have asked stakeholders (local councils, Duchy, Tresco Estates, etc) to come together and I have had the opportunity to discuss the implications with some who are expert in the aviation and helicopter service industry.
“Needless to say, we will explore whether there is a chance of underpinning the route with a Statutory Public Service Obligation and to see if future plans for the re-provision of Search and Rescue helicopter services can be coordinated with air passenger services to the Isles of Scilly so that beneficial economies can be achieved. However, the Search and Rescue contracts will not be let until next year with a probable implementation date of 2016.
“My thoughts are especially with the many employees of British International Helicopters both at Penzance on the Isles of Scilly who I know will be devastated as a result of this announcement. We must give them and those affected by this decision our support at this difficult time.”
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