Report warns Newquay airport may close without London link

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Newquay Cornwall airport could be forced to close if scheduled air services to London cease, an engineering consultancy has warned.

In a report prepared on behalf of airport owner Cornwall Council, Mott MacDonald warns that “as the London route provides most passenger numbers at the airport, it is likely that there would be a significant reduction in jobs at the airport and elsewhere in Cornwall if the London service ceased”.

It adds: “The significant reduction in passenger numbers could result in the required subsidy to continue airport operations becoming unsustainable, which would lead to the closure of the airport to scheduled services.”

The report – which was released under the UK Freedom of Information Act and seen by Flightglobal – was produced to assess Newquay airport’s eligibility to receive public service obligation (PSO) subsidies in order to maintain links with London after Flybe said it would end its Gatwick-Newquay route in March 2014.

In 2012, some 100,000 of the airport’s 170,000 passengers used the route between Newquay and Gatwick operated by Flybe, says the report. It estimates that the closure of the airport would cost the local economy £48.6 million ($79.8 million).

While Flybe has since said it will continue to operate its Gatwick service until October, Newquay airport will then be left with no scheduled link to the capital, as EasyJet has axed its seasonal route from the Cornish airport to London Southend.

Cornwall Council intends to apply to the European Commission for PSO subsidies on the route for four years.

The council currently provides the airport with more than £3 million per annum towards its upkeep.