Torbay airshow could be cut to one day to save money – with fewer planes

The future of Torbay's airshow isn't certain Credit: Torbay Council

Torbay’s English Riviera Airshow could be shortened or combined with another event in an effort to save money. 

Torbay Council will consider options to save money including charging for tickets to prime viewing locations or combining the show with another event such as Armed Forces Day.

Other than being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, the airshow has always been a two-day event since it started in 2016. However, shortening the show to one day and reducing the number of aircraft would save money. 

Torbay Council’s overview and scrutiny board will look at the future of the show in a ‘spotlight review’ meeting this month. 

Speaking during the show in June, council leader David Thomas (Con, Preston) said: “My heart says why would we not put this on when you see the people here, and you see the buzz and the vibe in the town? Absolutely – why would we not?

“But then the head says that £250,000 is an awful lot of money.”

The meeting will assess the show’s value for money, the financial contribution and the benefits to the community and the economy. Its recommendations will go to Torbay’s cabinet meeting the week after.

The 2023 airshow was financed through a mix of income from traders and concessions, private sector sponsorship, contributions from the English Riviera BID company and funds from Torbay Council.

The report to the committee says: “The airshow was intended to become financially sustainable, with little or no financial contribution from Torbay Council required, by 2020. This has clearly been harder to achieve than anticipated. 

“The costs of the airshow in 2023 have risen more than anticipated, in line with the general increase in cost of business, trading, living and utilities during 2023.”

The report also reveals 2023 show brought £3.5million in spending into the bay, of which £1.8million would not have been spent without the airshow. There were 36,000 people at the show on the Saturday and 29,000 on the Sunday. It also reveals the council put £195,000 towards the total airshow cost of £305,000.

The Red Arrows are a regular at the show Credit: PA

The report gives the council four options:

  • Continue to own and deliver a one-day show, with ‘ground elements’ in other parts of the bay and selling tickets in the best locations.

  • Let another not-for-profit organisation put on the show with help, and possibly sponsorship, from Torbay Council.

  • A not-for-profit organisation taking over the airshow while the council spends the money on other attractions, possibly including a Christmas ice rink or a large sporting event such as a triathlon.

  • Remove the airshow from the council’s schedule with no plans to redirect the funding. 

Torbay Council’s overview and scrutiny board meet on 8 August.

Credit: Guy Henderson, Local Democracy Reporting Service