More routes to and from Newquay Airport and no ADF.

Newquay Airport is in the news again for positive reasons with the Aviation Minister, Robert Goodwill recently visiting the airport to see for himself the significant growth which has been taking place at Cornwall Airport Newquay and the Aerohub Enterprise Zone over the past six months.

As reported in previous blog posts, the Cabinet voted in favour to remove the £5 Airport Development Fee (ADF). The good news is the ADF will be removed from 27 March as part of a package of measures to help encourage new airlines to fly from Cornwall.NQAirport

This encouragement has started to work, with new regional and international routes to and from Cornwall Airport Newquay for the Summer 2016 season will include Aberdeen, Doncaster, Sheffield, Liverpool and Glasgow (Flybe); Alicante and Frankfurt Hahn (Ryanair) as well as an increased schedule to Dublin (Aer Lingus ).

These routes are in addition to the existing routes offered by the Airport which include year-round flights to Manchester and London Gatwick with Flybe and daily direct flights between Newquay and the Isles of Scilly with Skybus. Other existing routes include Birmingham, London Stansted, Belfast, Edinburgh, Newcastle (Flybe) and Dusseldorf (Eurowings).

Flybe's Embraer E195 aircraft soon to be operating from Newquay Airport

Flybe’s Embraer E195 aircraft soon to be operating from Newquay Airport

Flybe announced last year that it was switching from the existing turbo prop aircraft to the larger 118-seat Embraer jet aircraft on its three times a day London Gatwick route. These new jet aircraft type are due to come into service on Sunday, 27 March. The larger jet will provide an additional 40,000 departing seats from Newquay over a 12 month. These aircraft will also reduce the transit times by 10 minutes each way.

Critics against the airport will highlight this facility still receives around £2.5m in subsidy from Cornwall Council. This subsidy has reduced over the years, and will further reduce as the airport grows.

The airport is also one of the Governments short-listed sites for the UK’s space port. If the airport becomes the space port, more airlines will want to operate to and from this airport.


Newquay Airport offers flights to Leeds and more flights to Dublin

Newquay Airport has in the last few months announced new and expanded routes. The recent announcement include flights to Spain and Germany, and Flybe to operate bigger jet engined aircraft to and from the airport.

I believe the increase of interest in Newquay Airport is two-fold, the first is the Government’s commitment to the London route with the PSO. The second is the decision by the Cabinet to remove the ADF.

In the Spending Review, the Government has committed to another PSO route to and from Leeds. The new route is scheduled to operate five days per week through until the end of October and then three days per week through the winter to the end of March.

Furthermore, the Dublin route which was announced in November 2014 is set to expand in 2016 and will operate daily and year round from March.

One senior-wag at the Council joked that if more airlines operate from the airport, we might need a second set of marshalling wands to cope with all the aircraft.

Seriously though, well done to all the people involved in making the airport attractive to airline operators. It is starting to pay off.


Flybe set to operate bigger aircraft from Newquay Airport

After the announcement of removing the ADF, followed by Ryan Air confirming they will be operating two news routes from and to the airport. Now there is a third bit of good news for the airport with the announcement today by Flybe confirming it will be operating larger jets from the airport.

The current fleet of aircraft Flybe operate from Newquay Airport is the turbo-prop Dash 8. These will be replaced by the larger 118 seat jet engined Embraer E195. This is good news, as these larger aircraft can carry 40 more passengers than the current aircraft and will reduce the flight transit time by 10 minutes.

These aircraft will operate on the Newquay/Gatwick and Gatwick/Newquay route covered by the PSO.

The link to a short film following Monday’s press conference at Cornwall Airport Newquay.

Flybe's Embraer E195 aircraft soon to be operating from Newquay Airport

Flybe’s Embraer E195 aircraft soon to be operating from Newquay Airport



Newquay Airport’s ADF gone results in a new airline operating to and from the airport.

In a little over 24 hours since the public decision to remove the ADF at Newquay Airport, Ryan Air has announced from April 2016, it will operate twice-weekly flights from Newquay Airport to Alicante and Frankfurt Hahn.

In further good news, Ryan Air has announced in celebration of the new routes, seats will be available for sale from 25.99 until the 30th November 2015. Though the regular price for flights will be £28.99 for both routes.

The airport is expected to an increase of passenger numbers circa 35,000 per year with these new routes.

Good news for the airport, and good news for passengers who now have more choice when flying to and from Newquay Airport.



Newquay Airport’s ADF to be scrapped in March 2016

Today, Cornwall Council has officially confirmed that the Airport Development Fee (ADF) will be scraped in March 2016. In a statement issued today by the Council, the Council said the removal of the ADF in March is part of a package of measures to help encourage new airlines to fly from the airport.Newquay

The good news for the airport is since the introduction of the Public Service Obligation service and an active marketing campaign, there has been a 16% increase in the number of passengers using the Newquay to Gatwick route. The other routes (11 in total) have seen an increase in the numbers of people using the airport too.

By removing this charge – which has been a problem for some airlines – it should encourage more airlines to come to Newquay and hopefully offering the opportunity to fly to other locations in the UK and maybe, just maybe flights direct to the Mediterranean.

For me, this is about developing the airport not only as a major player in the airport / airline industry, but more importantly no longer requiring the subsidy it gets from Council. This subsidy has been reduced over the years, but I would want to see this subsidy reach zero with the airport standing on its own two feet.

It is why as one of the Council’s Cabinet, I supported the removed of the ADF, now pleased it has now been publicly confirmed.


Cornwall Council’s Scrutiny Committee recommends not to refer the ADF decision back to Cabinet

Yesterday, the Council’s Scrutiny Committee discussed a 11 point call-in submitted by Cllr Fiona Ferguson and supported by nine other councillors on the recent decision by Cabinet to remove the Airport Development Fee (ADF). The removal would only happen If and only if certain conditions were met.

This call-in was discussed in closed session due to the commercial sensitivity of the original Cabinet item . Though, most of the detail has been reported by the printed media.

What I can say – without breaking any rule – is there was a debate on each of the 11 points, followed by a response on each point from the Portfolio Holder, and various officers.

After everyone who wanted to have a say on this matter did, the chairman called for a vote by members of the committee. The choices, do not refer it back to Cabinet, or refer it back to Cabinet. Simple.

The members of the committee voted and reported in open session, they would not refer it back to Cabinet. Therefore, the original Cabinet decision stands.


Getting rid of Newquay Airport ADF is the right decision

Newquay Airport. The very name tends to get a response of those who think it is an asset to Cornwall, and others think it is just one big liability. My view is it is an asset to Cornwall, and one that should be maintained. As I pointed out in: Newquay Airport – what has it done for us?

NewquayHowever, the airport should one day be able to stand on its own financial feet; and the Council should be all it can to get the airport to that point. Gettin to this has been made more difficult due to the turbulent nature of the airline industry.

Currently, Newquay Airport flights to 11 different destination. Mostly via one airline. The airport has recently been awarded PSO status by the Government for flights to and from London Gatwick. This is good news, but there is a danger the airport is over-reliant on one carrier. With this danger in mind, the airport board, and the Council should look to manage that risk by looking for alterative routes and airlines to operate to and from Newquay Airport. But for this to happen, the Council needs to address the Airport Development Fee.

The Airport Development Fee (ADF), or what has been nicknamed ‘the Mitchell Tax’ has been a moot point for many people. This £5 charge was introduced by the then Cornwall County Council to help fund the development of Newquay Airport. It was never meant to be a permanent tax, but once you get used to collecting a tax, it is difficult to make the decision to stop.

My view is this is just a tax, and like many others (most complained about issue when passengers were surveyed). The ADF is also disliked by the airlines, with one or two airlines being more vocal on this issue and refusing to operate out of airports that operate this type of charge. In case you are wondering, there are two other airports in the UK that operate a ‘ADF’. There was fourth, but this airport has now closed.

In recent months there has been discussion in the council of either increasing the ADF, or getting rid of it completely. The ADF collects about £400,000 per year. This is on top of the subsidy the airport receives from the Council, which is around £2m, and has been reduced from £3m.

For the subsidy to be reduced further to the goal of zero, you need to grow the route offer. As more routes means more passengers and more money from passenger spend, landing/take off fees, and handling fees. Sounds easy enough, but is impossible when a number of airlines refuse to operate out of an airport that operates an ADF/fee. The is also a danger if you removed the ADF without these extra routes would result in the subsidy having to increase. That is something I do not want.

As a member of the Cabinet, I was part of that discussion, but could not talk publicly about this due to the restrictions. However, much of the detail is now out and published by the media and my Cabinet colleague has spoken to BBC Cornwall about this issue (though there are still many details that are not, and which I will not cover here). So I feel I can explain on how I see it.

The ADF was discussed by the Cabinet as its last meeting. This part of the meeting was held in confidential session due to the commercial sensitivity of the information and the options. If it was just on whether to keep or remove the ADF, then this would have been in open session.

I will address this issue of this decision was made at a  ‘secret meeting’. I love how the words secret meeting is said in a way that something dodgy is going on. It is hardly secret when we actually advertise the meeting, and the meeting is open to all Members.

I have been a long-time opponent of the – over – use of Part 2 items, but I recognised in this case it was in the best interest of the Council to be able to do a commercial deal. And therefore, this item was held in confidential session not because there is anything to hide, but it was commercially sensitive. After all, when making a decision you are not going to tell the world a figure. As this could harm your chances of a deal in any negotiations. Once these negotiations are over, then the world will know. It is that simple.

Now back on subject of the ADF. The Cabinet recommended the removal of the ADF if certain conditions were met (I really cannot talk about these as explained in the previous paragraph). I voted in favour of the removal, as did five of my Cabinet colleagues. Three voted against (6-3 in favour).

However, this decision has now been called in to the Scrutiny Committee by 10 Members of the Council for various reason like not enough information etc. Scrutiny plays an important part in any decision making process. But scrutiny should not be used for purely political purposes.  Ironically, seven out of the ten signatories of the call-in were not even at the Cabinet meeting where the decision was made. How can you say a decision was flawed due to the information, when you were not even at the meeting! There is also a danger that by trying to score political points, you could jeopardise the deal. That is not in the best interest of the Council, or more importantly, Cornwall’s residents.

As for this Call-in, it will be held on the 22nd Sept at 2pm at County Hall. The Agenda when publish will be HERE. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, the Cabinet may need to reconvene to discuss the call-in outcome. However, if the Scrutiny Committee makes no recommendations, then the original Cabinet decision stands.  I wonder how many of those who have called it in will actually turn up at the meeting…


Newquay Airport offers flights to Dublin.

Newquay Airport has recently secured another airline to fly to and from the airport. It is great news that Aer Lingus (Regional) will begin a new service to Dublin from May 2015 operating up to five-times weekly.  The new service brings a new Airline brand and destination to the Airport and signifies the dawn of a new commercial relationship with Aer Lingus.  Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, is targeting 20,000 passengers in the first year.

Passengers will depart Newquay Cornwall Airport arriving in Dublin. Initially, there will be four flights per week – Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday – increasing to five flights per week – Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – in the peak summer months, from 27 June to 5 September 2015.

This is indeed excellent news and builds on the success of securing flights to and from London Gatwick and the much-needed Passenger Service Obligation.



Newquay Airport secures London flights for four years

Newquay Airport will be celebrating with the official confirmation today of three flights on weekdays all year round to from Newquay Airport to London Gatwick. This is because the airport has secured a Public Service Obligation which will see up to £2.8m of funding support provided by the Government over the next four years to safeguard the vital air link. The airline Flybe has been awarded the contract to operate the air service between Newquay Cornwall.

A huge amount of work has gone into securing the PSO and this included Cornwall Council, the LEP, business leaders and the counties MP’s. To get a PSO is a long and complicated process during which the Council and its partners have worked closely with the Department for Transport.  Leading up to the award of the PSO the tender attracted the interest from 13 organisations which included all the prominent passenger airline operators in the industry. However after the tender return period, the only bid to be received was from Flybe Ltd.

The judgements of the evaluation panel identified that Flybe Ltd met the tender eligibility criteria and demonstrated a thorough overall understanding of the PSO specification and service requirements. The PSO award recommendation to appoint Flybe Ltd was subsequently accepted and signed off by Cornwall Council’s Procurement Assurance Scheme Panel on 27 August 2014 and the Department for Transport on 13 October 2014.

This announcement is fantastic news for the Council as the operators of the airport. The route to London from Newquay is in place for four years. There will also be weekend flights too, but not at the same frequency as the weekday service. Those behind the succesful bid for the PSO (Nigel – you should be very proud) should be congratulated for all the hard work, blood sweat and tears into securing this much-needed route. Well done indeed.

Newquay Airport – what has it done for us?

Newquay Airport has always had its supporters, those who think we should get shot of the place as quick as possible and those who question the amount of subsidy the airport receives which allows it to operate. On the latter, the subsidy is a moot point to some (or many?) when it comes to the difficult budget decisions the Council is facing in the next few years.

Before I go on it will be worth doing a quick history of  why Cornwall Council owns the airport. Back in April 2004 the former Cornwall County Council took over responsibility for operating Newquay Cornwall Airport. This was following the withdrawal by the former Restormel Borough Council, which had previously owned the facility. Then in November 2005 the MOD announced that military operations at St Mawgan would end on August 2008 and in December Cornwall Airport Limited took over control.  As a result of this,  the County Council applied for a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to operate the airport as a civilian facility.  This included a new air traffic control landing system and tower, new Aerodrome lighting on the runway and taxiway, a new runway surface, improvements to the terminal building and a new Newquay Cornwall Airport Fire and Rescue Service with purpose-built fire station.

The County Council then spent approximately £76m transforming the former military airfield to a fully compliant civil airport – of this £49m came from European funding, with £27m coming from the Council.  The European funding agreement committed the Council to having an operational airport for the next twenty years. If the airport was to close before the 20 years was up, the Council could have to repay the £49m.

The Airport has been operated by Cornwall Airport Limited (CAL), a Private Limited Company wholly owned by Cornwall Council, since 2008 and the Council currently pays an annual subsidy to support the Airport. In 2009/10 the subsidy was £4.007m but this year is less than £3m, despite the worst economic aviation recession in 60 years. The council commissioned a detailed cost review in 2013 to see if the airport was being run as efficiently as possible. The report showed that over £850,000 had been taken from the cost base over the last few years and said that CAL were doing a good job.

So why not sell the airport? Well you can only sell an airport if there is someone willing to buy it. The Council did test the market to see if anyone was interested prior to the last unitary election, but no buyers came forward. So that pretty much rules out the option of selling. To look at the national context of why no-one was interested could be the reason several airports run by the private sector either closed (Manston in Kent, Bristol Filton and Blackpool is on notice to close) or brought back into the public sector because they were not viable. (Cardiff and Glasgow Prestwick).

Flybe operate three departures a day to London Gatwick. However, in May 2013 Flybe decided to sell its slots at London Gatwick (putting at risk the Airport’s vital London service), Newquay Cornwall Airport held discussions with other possible airlines to service the London route but unfortunately was unable to find a commercial partner. Feedback from possible operators stressed that the route was not commercially viable to them all year round because flight prices would be too high to achieve the required passenger numbers.

As a result of this, the Council and the LEP, with the support of local MP’s have lobbied central government to grant a Public Service Obligation (PSO) for the Airport. Which the Council has been granted subject to the tendering process.  Which means those who operate from the airport will receive a subsidy and therefore make the Newquay / London route viable. This is important as the only air services between London and Cornwall are to and from Newquay. A survey of Newquay Airport carried out by the Civil Aviation Authority and CAL showed that about 30% of the Gatwick route were business passengers – ar ound 30,000 passengers per year.

Of course, Newquay / London route is not the only route this airport services, and each route is important to the airport. The more routes the less subsidy the airport will require, but for this to happen we need more airlines to operate out of the airport. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a greater international offer available?

Many business leaders have stressed the importance of the Airport and the connectivity it provides. Passenger surveys carried out identified that about 24% of trips would not be made in the absence of an air service, and all business benefits from these trips would be lost. The alternative modes of rail and car involve significantly longer journey times. But around 70% of users are for leisure use too, so if this airport stopped operating their would be an impact on the tourism sector too.

Another factor of why the airport is important is because supports over 400 jobs, of which 150 direct jobs at the airport. Research shows that the overall economic impact of the Airport is currently around £54.5m a year. This is based on a figure of £5.9m of GVA resulting from efficiency benefits for local businesses; £28.1m of GVA resulting from the 83,500 tourist trips made through the airport and £20.5m of GVA resulting from the full-time jobs supported by the airport. The loss of this would have a significant impact on the Cornish economy.

Finally, the airport is also the site for Aerohub – England’s only aerospace focused Enterprise Zone (EZ). Aerohub is one of 24 Enterprise Zones set up by the Government to create future centres of excellence in key industries such as aviation, pharmaceutical, offshore energy and automotive.  EZ’s have the opportunity to attract investment, support development and create jobs through a combination of business rate discounts (worth up to £275,000 over five years for each business in the zone), simplified planning procedures and superfast broadband links.  

The Aerohub is led by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and Cornwall Council – as the owners of the airport and surrounding land.  It covers 650 acres with ample development opportunities, including hangars, office space and a business park.  So far it has attracted seven new businesses and created more than 130 jobs since its inception in 2012.  The long-term aim for the Enterprise Zone is to unlock further growth of both the aerospace and space sectors in Cornwall.

So as you can see, the continuing operation of the airport is so important to many aspects of Cornwall’s economy and simply closing it, or not safeguarding its future will have far-reaching consequences for Cornwall.


1 2