Dundee and Newquay Cornwall airports’ operators are in the final stages of applying for European subsidies to maintain air links with London, as their only routes to the UK capital are set to withdrawn later this year.
Flybe is to drop its Newquay-London Gatwick service in October 2014, and CityJet its Dundee-London City route on 29 March. Now, Cornwall and Dundee City councils are seeking public service obligation (PSO) grants to keep London services running.
Cornwall Council has made no secret of its desire to apply for a PSO, and documents released under the UK Freedom of Information Act and seen by Flightglobal show that both councils corresponded with the UK Department for Transport (DfT) between September and October, seeking advice on building a case for a PSO with the European Commission.
“Since we last spoke, the negotiations with the two airlines who expressed an interest in operating a Newquay to London service when the current service stops at the end of March 2014, have moved on. It is now looking highly unlikely that either airline will be prepared to provide a service. This makes a PSO our only option if we are to maintain the link. Cornwall’s six MPs were made aware of this position yesterday at their monthly meeting with the council's cabinet members,” Cornwall Council told the DfT.
Cornwall Council and Dundee City council has hired consultancies Mott MacDonald and RDC Aviation, respectively, to present their cases for the PSO to the European Commission, the documents show.
They also reveal that Devon Council also showed an interest in applying for a PSO on a route from the “far southwest to London via Exeter” and requested more information on the subject from the DfT in August 2013.
In June 2013, the UK government set aside £20 million ($33 million) of funding to subsidise air links to London where there is a risk that regional connectivity may be lost.