1. ITV Report

Airline halts Cross-Channel trips

Brighton (Shoreham) Airport Photo: Brighton (Shoreham) Airport

Cross-Channel flights from a provincial airport in West Sussex to France are to be suspended just two months after they launched, following a dispute with the French authorities.

Brighton City Airways said it will suspend its daily scheduled services from the renamed Brighton (Shoreham) Airport from May 7 due to delays in setting up a customs and immigration point of entry at Paris Pontoise airport.

Airline officials said the situation had become "intolerable" and had forced flights to land at another French airport - Rouen or Le Touquet - en route to Pontoise, leading to longer flight times and increased fees and costs.

The service only launched in March, with the promise of passengers being able to fly to France on a 19-seat Let 410 commuter aircraft for £69 one way, including taxes and charges.

But Jonathan Candelon, who founded Brighton City Airways, said promises that a customs and immigration port of entry would be in place at Paris Pontoise have not been met weeks down the line.

He said: "Just two weeks before we launched the airline in March, we were advised by the French authorities that there would be a short delay of a couple of weeks before a customs and immigration port of entry was in place at Paris Pontoise.

"However, eight weeks later, this intolerable issue remains in place and with no firm date set for resolution.

"In the meantime, we have been obliged to land in another French aiport, usually Rouen or Le Touquet, en route to Pontoise and the authorities have very rarely come aboard to check passports.

"This has meant having two take offs and climbs instead of one, longer flight times, extra airport fees and extra maintenance costs, all of which add up to a single flight to Paris costing us 60% more than a direct flight would cost, never mind the inconvenience for passengers."

He added: "We are truly sad to suspend the flights, not least because our ticket sales are over target and the demand for this airline is proven to be there, but we are forced to postpone flights until the issue is resolved at Paris Pontoise."

Ric Belfield, general manager of Brighton (Shoreham) Airport, said: "There are many people who have worked hard and made considerable investment both in time and money to bring the scheduled service into being. It is very hard to come to terms with the fact that the route which has proved extremely popular with customers should be frustrated by matters outside Brighton City Airways' control."