The future of transport links to the Isles of Scilly looks a lot more secure tonight. The company which provides air and sea routes to the islands says it will plug the gap when helicopter flights end later this year.
It's investing several million pounds to prolong the life of the Scillonian passenger ferry and secure more flights from three airports in the South West. Our Cornwall correspondent Steve Hardy reports.
Several million pounds is being invested to ensure vital sea and air links to the Isles of Scilly are maintained.
British International Helicopters is due to end its service to the islands at the end of October. Its rival, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, has announced that it is laying on more flights and buying new aircraft ready to take the 70 thousand passengers that used to go by helicopter.
Cornwall Council has blamed Tesco for the helicopter link between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly being scrapped.
The operators said a legal challenge by Tesco scuppered a deal to sell the heliport at Penzance to another supermaket chain which would have funded the flights. The council called on Tesco to withdraw its challenge.
Helicopter flights to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance will be scrapped from the end of October. British International Helicopters says it can no longer afford to run the route. It's been described as a 'devastating body blow' for the islands and west Cornwall. Steve Hardy reports.
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group says it is 'disappointed' and 'saddened' by the decision by British International Helicopters (BIH) to cease its flights between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly from November.
In the absence of another operator coming forward our focus now must be to work with the island community to ensure that we do our best to compensate for this loss of service. The Steamship Company CEO and full Board of course routinely considers strategic risks and changes to our business and although we were not anticipating this outcome we are confident we can respond by looking at our scheduling and how we deploy our air and sea resources.
– Andrew May, Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group
BIH says it can no longer afford to run the route which has been going for almost 50 years.
Helicopter flights to the Isles of Scilly will cease from the end of October. British International Helicopters says it cannot afford to run the route which has been going for 49 years. It blames the delay on selling the heliport at Penzance to raise funds.
The route has run for 49 years so this is an extremely sad announcement for BIH, its employees and its customers - in fact the whole of West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Unfortunately we had no alternative
– British International Helicopters Managing Director, Tony Jones
The company will honour all customer flights booked up until 31 October 2012. Anyone with a flight booked after 1 November will be given a full refund. The closure of the heliport will affect employees and the company has entered a formal redundancy consultation process.