Government agrees ‘in principle’ to help fund Newquay Gatwick air link
THE GOVERNMENT has agreed “in principle” to help subsidise the Newquay to London Gatwick air link, it emerged this morning.
MP Stephen Gilbert held a successful meeting with Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, to discuss the possibility of securing a Public Service Obligation (PSO) for the route.
The subsidy, which is subject to EU red tape, is available to regions deemed to be peripheral or developing, where an air link is not commercially viable but is considered to be vital to the local economy.
It is one option available to Cornwall Council, which owns Newquay Cornwall Airport, in its bid to retain the Gatwick route after it is scrapped by Flybe in March.
Speaking after the meeting yesterday, Mr Gilbert said: “I am delighted that Danny Alexander has indicated the Government will, in principle, help fund a PSO route if that’s the direction that the council feels appropriate to go down. I am absolutely determined that we do all we can to keep the route.
“There’s no doubt that the air link between Newquay and London is vital for the Cornish economy – supporting hundreds of millions of pounds of investment across Cornwall and thousands of jobs.”
Cornwall Council confirmed last week it was in talks with airlines about resurrecting the Gatwick link. Under a PSO, cash would be handed to an airline to ensure the route remained profitable.
Flybe revealed in May that it was selling its Gatwick landing slots to rival easyJet, which recently announced its intention not to take over the service when it is scrapped at the end of March 2014.
If the PSO application is unsuccessful, and no other airline is willing to run the service, Cornwall will be left without an air link to London besides a summer service to Southend with easyJet.
Mr Gilbert added: “The recent decision by easyJet … has put the link in jeopardy and I am working closely with Cornwall Council and the business community to explore all the options to keep it.”
Newquay Cornwall Airport is currently subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of around £3 million a year.