BIH hits back in Islands link row


British International Helicopters (BIH) has hit back at last week’s decision by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company to conclude negotiations over the relocation of its the Isles of Scilly helicopter service to Land’s End Airport.

In a statement, BIH expressed “great surprise” at the announcement, indicating that it believed plans to relocate from Penzance to Land’s End Airport, which is owned by the Steamship Company, were firmly on track.

BIH reassured that it remains committed to the Isles of Scilly route, and that it will “evaluate other base options”.

It said: “The Company has stated publicly on numerous occasions that it is commercially impossible for BIH to continue to operate the helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance.

“One of the options we were considering was having our helicopters based and serviced at Newquay, and running a shuttle service in the tourist season from Land’s End Aerodrome, and in the winter from Newquay.

“BIH remains committed to the route between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland”

“Unfortunately, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has announced that it will not give us access to operate through Land’s End Aerodrome. This announcement came as a great surprise to us as in July 2010 we were informed that the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company Board had approved its CEO to begin commercial negotiations with BIH to agree the terms for use of Land’s End by our helicopters. Initial negotiations put forward indicative rates, there being no need for operational matters to be discussed as these issues had been largely agreed back in 2008 when the move of the helicopters to Land’s End was first mooted.

“BIH remains committed to the route between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland, as we believe it would not be in the interests of people living on the Islands, and on the mainland, not to have a reliable helicopter service, and to leave the route to be served by a passenger and freight vessel and a fixed wing airline, both owned by one company.

“We continue to evaluate other base options from which to operate the helicopter service, and will announce our plans for the operation of the helicopter service beyond the 2011 season as soon as they are finalised.”