Devon

Viable urge council to buy Plymouth City Airport lease

Plymouth Airport
Image caption Plymouth City Council said it supported the plan so long as there was a "viable plan to go forward"

A group hoping to reopen Plymouth City Airport wants the city council to buy back the lease for the site.

Viable Group claims its five-year plan could see 500,000 passengers using the airport if owners, Sutton Harbour Holdings Plc (SHH), would sell the lease.

SHH blamed the economic downturn for the airport's closure in December.

Plymouth City Council said it supported the idea in theory. SHH said they would continue discussions with the council.

Some of the land at the airport has already been earmarked for a £38m housing project.

'Superb investment'

SHH, which has not commented on the proposal, took over operation of the airport in 2000 on a 150-year lease from the city council.

Viable's director Raoul Witherall said: "We've got huge public support on this now, some 16,000 have signed the petition supporting a move to seeing the airport retained for the city."

Plymouth city councillor Ian Bowyer, cabinet member for finance, said the council supported the idea of the airport, "so long as there was a viable plan".

A spokesman for SHH, which owns the leasehold on the former Plymouth City Airport site, said: "Since Plymouth City Council agreed, in August 2011, to the closure of the airport on 23 December 2011, we are obliged to work with them to maximise opportunities through alternative uses and we shall continue discussions with the Council in due course."

Under Viable's proposal, the first year would be dedicated to getting the airport operating, attracting users and resuming charter flights.

The second phase would be the reintroduction of daily scheduled air services, with two 19-seater planes flying to British destinations.

The final phase would involve a 40-metre extension to the runway, allowing 90-seater jets to connect Plymouth to Europe.

Viable said the vision was achievable with a total of £850,000 and the project would be a "superb investment for Plymouth".

Mr Witherall said the council needed to "provide certainty" and "sit down with the leaseholder and take the decision that Plymouth wants an airport and therefore come to agreement that frees the lease up for aviation to carry on".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites