Talks are under way to 'resurrect helicopter link' says MP

Tresco, Isles of Scilly. Pic: Tom Corser
Image caption The withdrawal of the "lifeline service last October has hit islanders, medical services and the economy"

A Cornwall MP is "in discussions" with operators to resurrect the helicopter link between Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly, he said.

St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George said he had been in talks with a helicopter firm which is "very interested" in providing a service.

British International axed its service between Penzance and Scilly in October.

Mr George said he wanted to "inject hope" into the community but said it was important to "remain cautious".

He said Yeovil based manufacturer, Augusta Westland was "very interested in making one of their 18 to 19 seater helicopters available to put a service on".

Mr George said potential operators Bond and CHC will now be approached to "look at possibilities".

He said: "Some of the significant elements of the jigsaw puzzle that need to be put together to resurrect the service are being worked on as we speak.

'Heliport site identified'

"Let's see if the Isles of Scilly and the Penzance communities get behind the idea and give it their full support and that will obviously assist in persuading other people to come on board."

Mr George said "a site in the Penzance area has been identified" for the heliport but that he could not comment further on the location.

British International stopped its year-round service linking the islands, some 28 miles (45km) south-west of Cornwall, after running into financial problems, blaming falling passenger numbers and rising costs.

Money to subsidise a helicopter link was ruled out by Transport Minister Norman Baker in October.

Mr George said withdrawal of the "lifeline service" had hit islanders, medical services and the economy.

"The winter that the islanders have experienced has perhaps opened a lot of peoples eyes as to why we need another transport provider to the Isles of Scilly," he said.

A ferry, the Scillonian, runs for only seven months a year; and the only other link, the Skybus plane service, which flies from Land's End Airport and Newquay in Cornwall, is weather-dependent. Neither service is subsidised.

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