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Aviation: New Cornwall-Heathrow link

The Secretary of State for Transport has announced a new direct air route between Newquay and Heathrow Airport from April 2019, offering passengers a greater range of choice for when and where to fly and link businesses in the South West to global trade partners.

The public service obligation which allows this route to run is jointly funded by a government and Cornwall Council initiative and will give passengers a choice of more than 200 destinations across 85 countries.

Airlines flying to any UK destination from Heathrow will continue to benefit from £15 discount on airport charges, making it cheaper to fly within the UK than ever before. This is just one element in a package of measures Heathrow is implementing to support more domestic flights within the UK.

This new route is a clear example of the government's own ambitions as it works to ensure all regions of the UK are well served by airports and routes to the rest of the country.

The more The Aviation Oracle thinks about the newly announced route between Newquay and London Heathrow that is set to launch next year, the more it seems to make sense for all involved.​

  • The government has renewed its Public Service Obligation (PSO) support for the link between London and Newquay. It can claim that it is doing what it can to support regional flying in the UK by providing a subsidy for services that would otherwise be difficult to operate profitably.

  • Heathrow will almost certainly have offered a £15 per passenger discount on service fees that it promised to encourage new UK-domestic route development. By doing this it can claim to be supporting the opening of new domestic services ahead of what is sure to continue to be a rocky road towards starting work on its third runway.

  • Due to it flying between Heathrow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen for more than a year, Flybe has access to more IAG/bmi remedy slots at Heathrow. It is therefore the only airline other than British Airways in a position to start a route to Newquay (see following piece for more detail) - and BA would not be able to use remedy slots anyway.​

So Cornwall continues to have an air link to the capital and the government has done its bit - along with Heathrow. Flybe picks up a new route which is subsidised to the tune of £10 per passenger for each return trip, and its service charges at one end are lower than normal by £15 a head. All being well Newquay-Heathrow could end up being a nice little earner - even more so if the airline manages to cash in its three slot pairs at Gatwick.

It has also just emerged that Virgin is sniffing around Exeter Airport. Adding Flybe to the group would provide a good feed into the Virgin Atlantic's long haul network. It would also strengthen Delta Air Lines' and Air France / KLM's (both part-owners of Virgin Atlantic) positions in London and European cities such as Amsterdam and Paris. Newquay is one more positive, even if it is a small one.

There would seem to be other potential benefits in Virgin buying Flybe, but The Aviation Oracle will leave those thoughts for another day, if and when the story develops.

Text © The Aviation Oracle

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