Plans for British International Helicopters (BIH) to relocate its Isles of Scilly service down to Land’s End have been abandoned.
It had been anticipated that BIH would relocate to Land’s End Airport at the end of the 2010/11 season, but following discussions with the airport’s owner, The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, this option has now been ruled out.
Steamship Company chairman Andrew May explained: “Following the original discussions with British International about a move to Land’s End two years ago, the environment and economic landscape in which our company is operating is fundamentally different now.
“We carefully considered all the risks and uncertainties facing the company in the current economic climate – the additional commercial, environmental and reputation risks to our business, should we have agreed to British International’s proposals, are not acceptable.
“For a variety of reasons, including the need to fund the very considerable investment that, as preferred bidder, will be required if the Isles of Scilly Link project leads to the successful introduction of a new ship to replace both the Gry Maritha and the Scillonian III, we have decided not to continue negotiations with British International.
“By making our position clear at this early stage, it gives the best opportunity for all interested parties to formulate alternative plans”
“Uncertainties about the outcome of Cornwall Council’s bid to the Department for Transport funding required by the Link Project and should the introduction of a new vessel be delayed beyond April 2013 for any reason, we believe that significant investment may be required in our existing vessels so they can continue to service the route.
“Whilst it has been decided to continue with enhancing passenger facilities at Land’s End, we would not wish to embark on a further significant programme of capital expenditure which would be required for helicopters to operate a regular scheduled service from the airport – the return from which would be uncertain for our shareholders,” he said.
May added: “By making our position clear at this early stage, it gives the best opportunity for all interested parties to formulate alternative plans.”
BIH first revealed intentions to move to Land’s End in 2008, citing economic reasons. Then earlier this year, it agreed to sell its current Penzance base to supermarket operator Sainsbury’s, subject to planning approval.
It is now likely that BIH will look to fly the route out of Newquay Airport.