STEAMSHIP GROUP OBJECTS TO HELICOPTER PLANS
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has lodged an objection to the planning application for a reinstated helicopter service between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.
The lengthy document, prepared by planning consultants Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, insists that the IoSSG is not trying to "undermine any form of viable or sustained market competition" but feels that the proposals would cause "considerable damage" to the company by eating into its market share by as much as 45%.
It reads: "IoSSG and others have examined the market position of the proposals and believe that if the overall travel market to the Islands does not see growth on current traffic figures, the impact of the proposed helicopter operation on ISSC’s current business will be substantial, at around 40-45% loss of current Skybus revenues."
This, it argues, could also undermine Land’s End Airport, while the immediate transfer of 20-25% of the Tresco bound passengers away from St Mary’s Airport to direct Tresco helicopter services would result in an "immediate and substantial shortfall in flights and revenue for the main air gateway to the Isles of Scilly".
The objection goes on to suggest that there is likely to be a negative impact on the traffic and operating schedule between St Mary’s and Cornwall Newquay Airport, which currently has year-round services.
"The application therefore must demonstrate the potential benefits or dis-benefits that the heliport proposal could bring to the Island travel market as a whole and the impact a new source of competition may have on current operators."
It claims that the new service may need cross-subsidies and that it fails to take into account "extreme seasonality" of the service, adding "this hardly provides confidence that the proposed operation will be financially viable and that the claimed benefits will materialise".
The document also criticises the consideration of alternative sites, pointing out that Land's End has received public funds to assist with its only role in providing year-round air services to Scilly.
"This Airport already has a based helicopter operation, the necessary space, facilities, services for passengers, refuelling, ATC, staff and operating licences in place to accommodate helicopter services."