Cornwall

Islands concerned over Cornwall helicopter base move

British International Helicopter on Tresco. Pic: D.Sims
Image caption British International Helicopters already has maintenance operations at Newquay Airport

Travel to the Isles of Scilly from Cornwall could become more difficult if a helicopter company moves to Newquay full-time, an island official says.

British International Helicopters (BIH) has abandoned plans relocate from Penzance to nearby St Erth and is to use further away Newquay Airport.

Dudley Mumford from the Isles of Scilly Council said there were concerns about higher ticket costs and flying times.

BIH said it was trying to find another suitable new site in west Cornwall.

'Not as convenient'

BIH abandoned its plans for St Erth after opposition from villagers worried about noise and pollution.

It is moving out of its current Penzance base in June 2012 after selling it to Sainsbury's to protect the future of the business.

Mr Mumford, the chairman of the islands' Transport Strategy Select Committee, said higher fuel costs having a knock-on effect on prices were one concern.

He added that if the helicopters remained at Newquay, they would be duplicating an aeroplane service already based there.

He said: "I think, from an islander's point of view, [Newquay] is not half as convenient or as suitable as the existing service."

BIH said it was committed to maintaining a service and was reviewing other potential sites with help from Cornwall Council.

BIH, which has operated the service since 1964, already has its aircraft maintenance and Royal Navy support contracts based at Newquay.

The Isles of Scilly are also served by a ferry from Penzance, plus planes from Land's End, Exeter, Southampton and Bristol.

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