Crusade to save Duchy air link to London
An MP has called on 20,000 people to join him in a crusade to convince a budget airline to guarantee the air corridor between Cornwall and the capital.
Stephen Gilbert is urging residents, businesses and visitors to show their support for the retention of the Newquay to London Gatwick air route amid speculation that the economic lifeline could be at risk.
"It is absolutely vital that Cornwall stands up and speaks with one voice and calls for the air link with London Gatwick to be retained," he said. "This is a crucial route for businesses in Cornwall to take local goods and services to markets in London and the South East and even further afield, as well as being a key-route into Cornwall for those investing here or visiting our part of the world."
Newquay Airport figures show that about 100,000 passengers use the route every year, said to be vital for regional business, investment and tourism.
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The future of the Gatwick link, currently operated by Flybe, is under threat following the sale of landing and take-off slots at Gatwick Airport to easyJet. There was speculation last week that the airline would continue to offer flights to Newquay, but so far this remains unconfirmed.
Mr Gilbert said that the company needed to know it was wanted. He has already written to easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall and has met with company representatives to discuss the future of the route. He urged local businesses and residents to join him and urgently e-mail the easyJet boss at Carolyn.McCall@easyjet.com to show their support.
"EasyJet are currently considering whether or not the link should remain and I would ask everyone to contact easyJet to underline the local support for this vital link.
"Gone are the days of 20,000 Cornishmen marching on London but I'd like to think we could get 20,000 e-mails to easyJet to explain the reasons why the Newquay to Gatwick link is so important."
The campaign comes at a crucial time for Westcountry links to London.
Last week, travel writer Simon Calder pointed to the difficulty travelling into the region in a high profile speech which suggested the Westcountry peninsula was cut off on three sides by the sea and on the fourth side by poor rail links.
Easyjet, which is based in Luton, last month acquired 26 UK routes into Gatwick from Exeter-based Flybe in a £20 million deal which will come into effect at the end of March.
This includes landing slots currently arriving from, and departing for, Newquay, with Flybe currently operating three daily return flights along the route.
Fears have been mounting that the sale will effectively sever the Westcountry's remaining direct route into London.
Former Air Southwest flights from Newquay and Plymouth airports ceased in January 2011, following the airline's acquisition by Eastern Airways which said the routes were not financially viable.