The news that easyJet will not operate a daily flight from Newquay into London Gatwick next year has come as something of a hammer blow to the Cornish business community.
It had been generally ‘understood’ that easyJet would pick up the route from Flybe, which announced earlier this year that it was pulling out from the end of March 2014.
The whispers behind the scenes were that it was a done deal. And while three flights a day, as it currently stands, was maybe a tad optimistic, a daily service was very much on the cards.
Well, mother always told me not to eavesdrop…
The easyJet number crunchers have ultimately decided that the route would just not be financially viable and demand wouldn’t fill their 156-seater A319 aircraft. Personally, I would have thought there would have been enough demand for, say, at least one A319 flight a day opposed to the three 78-seater Dash 8 flights we currently have through Flybe.
But then again, I’ve always been crap at maths and it isn’t my money. And, of course, the super-high landing charges at Gatwick don’t help the equation either.
In the end, market forces dictate. And while just about everybody you speak to in the business community will say a daily London link is vital to Cornwall’s economy, the fact is that that same business community is just not using the route enough.
So what now for Newquay? Its owner, Cornwall Council, says it is still in discussions with a number of interested airlines to maintain the link. But after getting our hopes up over easyJet, we should perhaps be a little more circumspect this time around.
RAF Northolt has been mooted as a possibility – just 15 minutes from Heathrow, 30 minutes from central London and adjoining a tube station. Worth considering maybe?
But one thing is sure; as it currently stands the Newquay departure lounge is going to be a pretty quiet place after next summer’s schedule of domestic flights.
I have heard suggestions that without a year-round London link, the airport could even close altogether and that while the advent of the Aerohub has been a positive move, RNAS Culdrose could be an alternative for civil helicopter operations.
Let’s hope that won’t happen, but it’s been a case of ‘use it or lose it’ for a while now. Maybe we just didn’t listen.