PlymSpotter
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British International Ending Scilly Flights

Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:13 pm

British International Helicopters have announced their intention to suspend flights between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall, leaving St Mary's with just Isles of Scilly Skybus and Tresco with no service at all. This is a major blow for the islands, Skybus are often grounded by poor weather (fog especially) for days at a time, but the helicopters could fly on through most conditions.

http://www.scillytoday.com/2012/08/0...scilly-helicopter-routes-to-close/

With Air Greenland's machines on charter duty before being phased out, I think this marks the end of scheduled passenger S-61 services?


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Dan  
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26point2
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:25 am

I imagine maintaining these birds is very expensive and gets worse as the fleet ages. Sad to see it go.

When I was a young lad we had SFO Helicopter Airlines in the San Francisco Bay Area using the S 61. Made a circuit of the bay with stops at the major airports and a few not so major airports.I believe it cost $5 to take a joy ride as long as you started and ended at the same stop?

1970 or there about. Good times.
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:31 pm

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 1):
I imagine maintaining these birds is very expensive and gets worse as the fleet ages. Sad to see it go.

Yes this is one of the reasons. They were selling their formed base in Penzance to a supermarket to fund the acquisition of new helicopters, but now this has been challenged they are not 100% able to fund these so are pulling the plug.

Quoting 26point2 (Reply 1):
I believe it cost $5 to take a joy ride as long as you started and ended at the same stop?

Awesome!


Dan  
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Pe@rson
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 1:02 pm

Dan, your link didn't work for me, so here's another: http://www.piratefm.co.uk/news/lates...icopter-flights-to-islands-to-end/

Seems they'll cease from the 1st Nov.

Quoting PlymSpotter (Thread starter):
the helicopters could fly on through most conditions.

In July a year or two ago I was booked to fly PZE-ISC-PZE while staying in Newquay. Alas, the weather was horrific which meant highly delayed flights - no good for a day trip - so I got a refund. I must now try to fly it before it's too late.
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rutankrd
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:12 pm

I can't understand why this route isn't receiving a PSO grant as it certainly meets the EU criteria.
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:49 pm

Quoting Pe@rson (Reply 3):
Dan, your link didn't work for me, so here's another: http://www.piratefm.co.uk/news/lates...-end/

Cheers James, yes they moved the article which is helpful.

Quoting Pe@rson (Reply 3):
In July a year or two ago I was booked to fly PZE-ISC-PZE while staying in Newquay. Alas, the weather was horrific which meant highly delayed flights - no good for a day trip - so I got a refund. I must now try to fly it before it's too late.

It takes a good storm to stop them flying. Family used it a lot to visit friends on the islands, flying in 70+ mph winds and driving rain wasn't unheard of. But then most of the pilots cut their teeth flying to oil rigs in the North Sea, making the hop to the IoS a walk in the park in most conditions.

Quoting rutankrd (Reply 4):

I can't understand why this route isn't receiving a PSO grant as it certainly meets the EU criteria.

Same here, I believe it's being looked into but may be too late. Additionally they are planning to upgrade the runway to try and get larger aircraft in, which could be interesting.


Dan  
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MHG
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:16 pm

I had this seen coming from the point when they sold PZE heliport to Tesco.
BS promised to switch flights to NQY after nov 1 but since Skybus is already operating from there I really couldn´t see it work in direct competition with a fixed wing operator.

Makes me wonder why they even considered flying out of NQY in the first place - it´s not like Skybus is a new operator at NQY ...

Still - it´s sad because this is the last scheduled helicopter route operated with S-61´s.
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:32 pm

Quoting MHG (Reply 6):
I had this seen coming from the point when they sold PZE heliport to Tesco.
BS promised to switch flights to NQY after nov 1 but since Skybus is already operating from there I really couldn´t see it work in direct competition with a fixed wing operator.

Makes me wonder why they even considered flying out of NQY in the first place - it´s not like Skybus is a new operator at NQY ...

The intention was to open a new smaller heliport around Penzance. Predictably though planning stopped that, meaning they intended to make the move to NQY until it could be fought or re-sited. They needed the money from the sale of land to buy newer aircraft and now this sale has been challenged they have decided to pull out as they see no certainty in the long term future of the operation as the S-61s need replacing. At the back of my mind I have to wonder if it's a bluff to force financial/planning support, in the form of a PSO or other.

It was Skybus I could see losing out at NQY though, not British International. The weather record of the helicopter compared to the plane is excellent, and that reflects on passenger loyalty. Weather opens and closes very quickly on the Scillies, the best Skybus can do is see a gap and get a couple of planes out and back to Lands End within the window, but they can't do the same with NQY as it's further and they run the risk of getting stuck on the mainland, which they dislike. For BIH that's not a problem, they could fly in pretty much anything, plus they had exclusivity on the Tresco route.


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bthebest
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:34 pm

Out of interest, what were the new aircraft going to be?

I could imagine some newer, but not factory new, S-61s. Are there any other suitable aircraft?
 
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:13 pm

Quoting Bthebest (Reply 8):
Out of interest, what were the new aircraft going to be?

I could imagine some newer, but not factory new, S-61s. Are there any other suitable aircraft?

The EC225 I believe.


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asctty
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:22 pm

Excuse my ignorance, but do over-water (civilian) helicopter passengers have to undergo similar off-shore survival training as rig workers?
If not why-not, especially given the age of the current fleet in use?
 
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:30 pm

Quoting asctty (Reply 10):
Excuse my ignorance, but do over-water (civilian) helicopter passengers have to undergo similar off-shore survival training as rig workers?

No, in fact on the flights to the Scillies there is no security process at all and just a short safety demonstration in the terminal before boarding.

Quoting asctty (Reply 10):
If not why-not, especially given the age of the current fleet in use?

For the same reason that you don't when flying from London to Paris - the passengers are going from one piece of dry land to the other, the route just happens to pass over water. On the North Sea flights you are going from dry land to a tiny platform in the middle of the sea - the survival training is because of the rig destination, not the flight itself. Age doesn't have any implication either, so long as the aircraft is well maintained.


Dan  
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vfw614
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:27 am

Quoting MHG (Reply 6):
BS promised to switch flights to NQY after nov 1 but since Skybus is already operating from there I really couldn´t see it work in direct competition with a fixed wing operator.

Makes me wonder why they even considered flying out of NQY in the first place - it´s not like Skybus is a new operator at NQY ...

The idea was to operate from a new heliport at St. Erth near Hayle, just 5 miles up the A30 from Penzance (rather than 40 miles like Newquay). However, the plan was met with resistance from people living in the area. BIH spent a six-digit figure on plans and applications which added to the losses of the current operation.
 
YVRLTN
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:37 am

Quoting PlymSpotter (Reply 9):
The EC225 I believe.

How about the S92? The AW139 is smaller but seems to be an able machine too.

Shame to see this go. Helijet here at YVR had an S61 until recently, though that has gone back to the owner as is no longer running scheds either.
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bennett123
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:09 am

So do BIH fly "standard" passengers on any other routes, will it just be (mostly MOD) charters?.
 
Eljonno
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:08 am

Quoting vfw614 (Reply 12):
The idea was to operate from a new heliport at St. Erth near Hayle, just 5 miles up the A30 from Penzance (rather than 40 miles like Newquay). However, the plan was met with resistance from people living in the area. BIH spent a six-digit figure on plans and applications which added to the losses of the current operation.

Could they not have tried a scheduled service from RNAS Culdrose (EGDR), I wonder? It's only 14 miles further east by road from PZE and it already has a massive Royal Navy helicopter flying programme, so I can't imagine that people living in Helston would have much to complain about (a large proportion probably work at Culdrose anyway).

[Edited 2012-08-03 02:10:42]

[Edited 2012-08-03 02:14:43]
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:35 am

Quoting YVRLTN (Reply 13):
How about the S92? The AW139 is smaller but seems to be an able machine too.

That was probably considered, but the grapevine suggests it was the Eurocopter which came out as the preferred type.

Quoting bennett123 (Reply 14):
So do BIH fly "standard" passengers on any other routes, will it just be (mostly MOD) charters?.

It's MoD, they run a contract for the Royal Navy's FOST operation using two Dauphins, with a third on the way.

Quoting eljonno (Reply 15):
Could they not have tried a scheduled service from RNAS Culdrose (EGDR), I wonder? It's only 14 miles further east by road from PZE and it already has a massive Royal Navy helicopter flying programme, so I can't imagine that people living in Helston would have much to complain about (a large proportion probably work at Culdrose anyway).

It's also pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Great as you say regarding noise, but really bad for all other aspects of the operation. A lot of passengers connected from the nearby train station to the helicopter, hence why the new heliport was going to have it's own station with a Part and Ride facility for Penzance and St Ives.


Dan  
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vfw614
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:41 am

Surprised that the guy running Tresco Estate seems to be pretty relaxed about the fact that his island is going to loose its air link:

http://www.scillytoday.com/2012/08/0...estate-says-its-business-as-usual/


Funny, by the way, that Tesco is the ultimate reason that Tresco is going to lose the BIH service.
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:26 am

Quoting vfw614 (Reply 17):

Surprised that the guy running Tresco Estate seems to be pretty relaxed about the fact that his island is going to loose its air link:

That's a PR statement to reassure visitors - there's cogs turning and angry words behind the scenes.

Quoting vfw614 (Reply 17):
Funny, by the way, that Tesco is the ultimate reason that Tresco is going to lose the BIH service.

It's Sainsbury's, not Tesco. But ultimately this was the decision of BIH to sell.


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vfw614
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:33 am

No, it's Tesco because they (and two private individuals) have filed a complaint againt the building permission Sainsburys has obtained. Therefore, the sale of the facility from BIH to Sainsburys cannot go through as planned. BIH says that the resulting lack of funds forces them to stop the flights (true or not, could just as well be a welcome excuse).
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:41 am

Quoting vfw614 (Reply 19):

No, it's Tesco because they (and two private individuals) have filed a complaint againt the building permission Sainsburys has obtained. Therefore, the sale of the facility from BIH to Sainsburys cannot go through as planned. BIH says that the resulting lack of funds forces them to stop the flights (true or not, could just as well be a welcome excuse).

OK I thought you were referring to who was buying the site. This action by Tesco hasn't stopped the sale indefinitely, part of their claim for a review is that the council haven't provided an alternate site nearby. These claims and actions happen all the time in cases like building supermarkets, little will change - they'll probably just have to plant a few more trees and not open so long for the first years.


Dan  
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vfw614
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:12 pm

The interesting aspect is that BIH is giving the Tesco-initiated delay as the reason for the end of the services as it denies BIH access to the funds required for a continuation of the flights elsewhere. To me that sounds more like a lame excuse as I fail to understand why BIH cannot continue to use the old facility until the legal disputes have been resolved - until then, they either remain owners of the facility or - if the sale is not linked to a planning permission - they will get the money regardless what problems Sainsburys and Tesco fight out before the courts. I find it difficult to believe that BIH will lose ownership but not get money.
 
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:13 pm

Quoting vfw614 (Reply 21):
I find it difficult to believe that BIH will lose ownership but not get money.

Indeed, that won't happen. I am still taking this with a huge pinch of salt - everybody concerned knows how important this is to the islands. I think this is a bluff by BIH, to attract PSO funding and get the heliport issue resolved. Incidentally most of the objections focused on the associated Park and Ride/Rail Station scheme, not the heliport.


Dan  
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Eljonno
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:26 pm

[quote=PlymSpotter,reply=16]
It's also pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Great as you say regarding noise, but really bad for all other aspects of the operation. A lot of passengers connected from the nearby train station to the helicopter, hence why the new heliport was going to have it's own station with a Part and Ride facility for Penzance and St Ives.

Hmm didn't really think about that actually! Cornish buses can't exactly take the strain either! Going up the road to NQY would have a similar problem I guess (although it's much easier getting to Culdrose by car and marginally easier by bus, I guess - being on the road from Fal to Penzance...)
 
JezUK77
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:34 pm

So what alternatives do we have on how we can fly there? Ourselves with a private licence? Isles of Scilly Skybus? Maybe Air Southwest if they exist?
 
Eljonno
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:49 pm

Quoting JezUK77 (Reply 24):
Maybe Air Southwest if they exist?

Sadly SZ no longer exist   They were a fantastic little airline.
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:29 pm

Quoting JezUK77 (Reply 24):
So what alternatives do we have on how we can fly there? Ourselves with a private licence? Isles of Scilly Skybus? Maybe Air Southwest if they exist?

Skybus from Lands End, Newquay, Bristol, Exeter and Southampton, or as you say flying in there yourself. The other option is taking the Scilonian - an again Ferry which also needs replacing and is highly susceptible to weather cancellations due to it's low draft and flat bottom.


Dan  
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PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:32 pm

Quoting eljonno (Reply 25):
They were a fantastic little airline.

They were indeed, great people from top to bottom.


Dan  
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vfw614
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:00 pm

Quoting PlymSpotter (Reply 26):
The other option is taking the Scilonian - an again Ferry which also needs replacing and is highly susceptible to weather cancellations due to it's low draft and flat bottom.

If I am not mistaken, the Scillonian aka The Vomit Comet does not operate during the winter months, so from November to March the only option is Skybus (unless you can get on the Gry Maritha freight vessel that sails year-round) - which can be a bit of a gamble in poor weather periods.
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:07 pm

Gry Maritha only holds 6 passengers, although the Scillonian is supposed to be operating year around now (from this year on) as a response to the helicopter cancellation. Such a quick decision on that (albeit not official so far as I'm aware) strikes me that the BIH cancellation has been known about for a while by some.


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vfw614
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Sat Aug 04, 2012 10:09 pm

What's the situation at St. Just? AFAIK, the airfield is operated by Skybus. Could they be forced to let a competitor operate from there or is it a strictly private airfield?
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:20 pm

Lands End/St Just is owned and operated by Westward Airways who are a sister company of IoS Skybus. Skybus is in turn owned by the IoS Steamship Company, meaning they now have a total monopoly on all routes to the island. I don't think they could be forced to open up Lands End to BIH as the facility isn't suitable without some modifications. The option was explored several years ago, resulting in their application to relocate there being turned down.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-11626134


Dan  
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vfw614
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:40 pm

I was more thinking about an alternative fixed-wing operator to avoid a IoSS sea/air monopoly (although I cannot think of one, to be honest). I wonder if Land's End is covered by what lawyers call "essential facilities doctrine", i.e. that access must be granted to certain facilities even if they are not state-run.
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: British International Ending Scilly Flights

Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:21 pm

Allowing a competitor access could be done to some extent, but it would be a very marginal operation. Ideally another already established carrier would add IOS to their route network, but at present there is no such operation capable of doing so on viable routes.


Dan  
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