Flybe has announced a stay of execution for its Newquay to London Gatwick route.
The airline was due to terminate the service from the end of March, following the sale of its Gatwick landing slots to easyJet, leaving the Duchy without a daily air link to the capital.
That threat appears to have lifted, however, with Flybe today announcing new slots and a continuation of the service through to October 25, by which time it is expected that a permanent solution will have been found.
It had been previously hoped that easyJet would maintain the link itself, but it ruled out the possibility in October, saying it was not economically viable.
The Council has since been in discussions with the Department of Transport over the possibility of the Government providing a subsidy on the route between Newquay and London.
The Department confirmed that the route was eligible for a Public Service Obligation and work is now underway to issue tender documents inviting airlines to submit bids to operate the service in line with EC regulations.
However, as this lengthy process is not likely to be completed until next autumn, it would have meant a short break in the service.
Today’s announcement by Flybe means that the air link between Newquay and Gatwick will now continue until October 25, the end of the formal summer season, by which time a new service is expected to be in place.
“This is very good news for Cornwall,” said Adam Paynter, the Council’s cabinet member for partnerships. “The air link between Newquay and London is vital for the economy of Cornwall and I am delighted that Flybe has decided to continue to operate the service next summer.”
Chris Pomfret, the chairman of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “The provision of a regular year round service to a London hub airport with a schedule that works for businesses is vital to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“I know that many businesses were very concerned about the impact of a break in the service over the summer and I am sure they will join me in welcoming Flybe’s decision.
“However, we must ensure this is the first step in delivering a long-term secure daily all year round service that is so essential if Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are to improve economically.”
It is believed that a subsidy could amount to several million pounds a year.