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HeliTorque :: View topic - British International Helicopters to close Scillies route
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HeliTorque Forum Index » Offshore, Onshore & Utility

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British International Helicopters to close Scillies route
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:06 am    Post subject: British International Helicopters to close Scillies route Reply with quote

British International Helicopters to close Scillies route

British International Helicopters has announced it is to close its helicopter passenger route between the UKs Penzance and the Isles of Scilly in November.

The 1 August announcement confirms the route, which is one of the few scheduled helicopter passenger routes in the world, will close on 1 November although the company said it would honour all customer flights booked up until 31 October.

The company's heliport at Penzance will close and the firm says it has entered a formal redundancy consultation process.

The closure relates to the sale of the heliport site at Penzance, which had been purchased by the Sainsbury supermarket chain. Legal action taken by supermarket chain Tesco and two private individuals challenging the planning permission granted by Cornwall Council has delayed the sale of the land to Sainsburys and the urgently needed capital from the sale is no longer available.

BIH said it had 'repeatedly stated publicly that the land needed to be sold in a reasonable time frame to release the capital required to continue the service'.

BIH Managing Director Tony Jones said: '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.'

BIH had remained committed to finding a suitable relocation site in West Cornwall. However, at the end of 2011 the company reluctantly withdrew its application to relocate the heliport to St Erth on the back of mounting public and stakeholder pressure. The company says this application cost over 300,000.

Since starting this process in 2010, financial pressure on the company has been compounded by the falling number of air passenger visitors to the Isles of Scilly while operating costs have risen. Taking all these factors into account, BIH said it had no alternative other than to close the route from 1 November 2012.

However a challenge was made to that decision which resulted in a delay of six months which BIH could ill-afford.

BIH remained committed to finding a suitable relocation site in West Cornwall. However, at the end of 2011 BIH reluctantly withdrew their application to relocate the heliport to St Erth on the back of mounting public and stakeholder pressure. The company says this application cost over 300,000.

by Tony Osborne in London
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