Plymouth City Airport to close

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Plymouth City Airport is to close down at the end of the year it has today been revealed.

Owner Sutton Harbour Group said that having considered the economic downturn combined with the challenges facing the regional aviation market, it saw no realistic prospect of an improvement in the airport’s trading position and that it had become “unviable as a commercial enterprise”.

Losses over the next 12 months could be in excess of £1 million and are unsustainable, the company said. It added that with the cessation of the London Gatwick route in February this year, by the new owners of Air Southwest, it expected annual departing passenger numbers to dip below 30,000, or less than 100 per day.

The company said Plymouth City Council had been very supportive during its tenure as operators of the airport but the extent of current and anticipated losses, together with the ongoing capital investment required to maintain the safe operation of the airport, are such that no viable solution has been found.

Nigel Godefroy, chief executive of the Sutton Harbour Group, said: “During our 11-year involvement with Plymouth City Airport we have done everything in our power to make it a success, even launching our own regional airline. So this has been an incredibly difficult decision given the efforts by so many, including our own staff, to give the airport a future.

“We have worked long and hard with Plymouth City Council and the Chamber of Commerce to try to identify a possible long term solution for the airport because we all recognise its importance to the city. Unfortunately, between us we have not been able to find a solution which overcomes the fundamental problem that Plymouth City Airport, like many regional airports in the current environment, is unviable as a commercial enterprise.”

The Sutton Harbour Group took over operation of the airport in 2000 and went on to launch Air Southwest in 2003. Air Southwest was sold to Eastern International Airways in November 2010. Since then, Air Southwest has taken the commercial decision to reduce or cut loss making routes, including London Gatwick, which has significantly reduced passenger numbers at the airport.