Now lets just get rid of the £5 airport tax!
Confused is my current position on sale/non-sale of Newquay Airport. The Council’s own press statement said and I quote:
“There are three main options on the table – the sale of the airport, part acquisition of the site and entering into a management service agreement to operate the airport.”
However today, I asked the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Resources the question on possible claw-back in European money if the airport was sold. As I said before, this claim was repeated over and over again when the matter of the airport was raised in the early days of Cornwall Council.
The Portfolio Holder said the airport will not be sold, and then completely ignored my original question about repaying money. This was backed up (later on) by the Director of Corporate Resources saying the council would not sell the airport, but more than likely enter into a management agreement with someone.
So why say in a press statement one of the three options is for the sale, when in reality it won’t be. How can any investor have the confidence if there is such a mixed message. It was bad enough of having to hear of the sale/non-sale in a press statement, but lets get the message right.
It was also interesting to hear that the ‘soft’ marketing of the airport would cost around £50k. The Portfolio Holder for Economy said this cost of marketing come from European money. Lets hope he is right, and it does not fall onto the council tax payer.
My feeling there’s more to this sale, non-sale than is currently being said. Lets hope those elected to the council are told all the details, and soon.
News from Cornwall Council is they are ‘reviewing’ the current position on Newquay Airport. When I say Cornwall Council, I really mean its Cabinet; because most Councillors on the authority have had no say on this subject.
The council in its press statement said it wishes to continue to support the airport, but needs to look at the best option especially in the current economic climate. Sadly, and with too much frequency I and many of my fellow Councillors only learnt of this news by the press statement.
The three options on the table are: The sale, part sale, or entering into a management agreement with someone. The aviation industry is finding it particularly hard in the current economic climate with routes being cut, or worse, airlines disappearing or merging just to stay afloat.
Many will argue as to why a council needs to run an airport. Cornwall Council is not unique in owning and running an airport as many other councils own airports, or have large shares in them.
A council if running a commercial venture like an airport should make sure it makes a profit, or at a minimum, breaks even. Sadly, Newquay Airport does neither. In fact, if it was not for yearly subsidy of £3.6 million out of tax payers money it would have gone to the wall years ago.
It gets worse, as over the last few years passenger numbers have dropped to dangerously low levels. In the period of 2009/10 the yearly passenger numbers stood at 359,578. Now the current predicted passenger numbers for 2011/12 stands at roughly 200,000. This is a huge 45% drop in passengers.
With the passenger number dropping by this percentage this means the current subsidy is not enough to make the airport financially viable, and Cornwall Council will need to find extra money from the budget to make up the short-fall. But where from the budget, and at the expense of which other service?
In the first few months of the newly formed Cornwall Council many Councillors (including me) asked about the airport and if we should have the debate on its future. Every time this question was asked, the answer was we cannot sell it because of the European money we would have to pay back if we sold it. From memory, figures of £20 million were banded around of possible re-payments.
So what has changed two years later? Will we still have to pay back this money (if we ever did), or have things got so bad there is no other option than sell, part sell, or allow someone else run it.
As with most things at Cornwall Council there is more to this decision than the press statement. Hopefully I and my fellow Councillors will find this out before any decision is made.
After my blog about Southwest Air stopping flights from Newquay later this year the future of the airport looked less than healthy. Today however, Flybe has announced new flights from Newquay to Manchester.
This four times a week service will run from 30th October and will fly on Mondays, Thursday, Fridays and Sunday’s. Let’s hope this new route will be a success and will lead to more flights to and from Newquay.
News, and bad news has been announced about Air Southwest’s intention to pull out of Plymouth and Newquay. This is a huge blow to not only Plymouth, but Newquay airport. As people will know Newquay airport is owned by Cornwall Council and has for the last few years been losing a considerable (millions) amount of money every year.
Newquay’s routes to Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey and Manchester will also end on the 13th September and then on the 30th services to Aberdeen, Bristol, Cork, Dublin and Leeds Bradford will end.
No doubt the revenue to the already loss making airport will be further hit. I have sent an email asking the amounts of lost revenue and the impact to the airport this announcement will have.
You need planes to land and take of from an airport to make it work. The question is: how many more blows can Newquay Airport take before it is a lost cause?