Following the announcement this week that airsouthwest are to discontinue their twice daily Newquay-Plymouth-London City service on 21st May, I thought I'd share details of what happened just over a year ago on the first day of operations - 20th April 2009. When the service was announced on 11 March 2009 I booked a day off work for the first flight and booked my tickets the following day - it was only £29 each way. The £29 ticket was offered as a base fare until late last year: with the rising cost of fuel, airport fees and taxes, they had to raise their base fare slightly, with those hoping to spend a day in London being charged the most. This eventually resulted in a reduction in passenger numbers - it was not that passengers weren't using the service; just not quite enough to fill the 50 seats and with the rising costs of operating to LCY the airline has decided to to stop the flights in a few weeks time.
Back to April 2009. The day before one of the airlines dash-8's had an undercarriage issue and was seen circling over Plymouth - it landed with no problems but I was hoping that it wouldn't stop the running of the first LCY service. Living 10 minutes walk away from Plymouth City Airport I walked up to the airport on the Friday morning on a perfect clear day. During the walk I saw a deer whilst walking through the college
About to enter the airport, the advert for the new service was clearly displayed - PLH LCY PDQ - this was used throughout the southwest media and also in London to show how quick the service was in comparison to the train and other forms of transport. Walking through the airport entrance I met plymspotter who had already checked in to get the best seat and had parked his bike behind the car park ticket machine waiting for his return later that day! I checked in soon after to obtain a window seat and continued to watch the first passengers and the media who were also going to join us on the first flight to LCY. Plymouth is a small but very friendly airport with it not being uncommon to meet someone you know - in fact I was checked in by the sister of one of my friends at Primary School. It's still quite easy though to choose your seat at no extra cost.
These were some of the adverts within the terminal building at Plymouth
This picture shows the new MD Peter Davies being interviewed
This one shows the checkin counter
We were soon called through security and saw G-WOWA arriving on time from the short flight over from Newquay.
Here are some photos of it's arrival - note the surfboards in the baggage hold. As most people were going for the day most people just had hand luggage.
All seats were filled on this first flight and with everyone ready to go, the Captain made his announcement which included 'welcome to this inaugural flight to London City. The first time I landed into London City was when it first opened in 1987 and we are very pleased to be part of the airsouthwest team.’
Here is a video of the announcement
The flight involved the local media filming and interviewing the passengers - myself and plymspotter were both seen on the local news that evening.
Here is a video of the first landing at LCY
Upon arrival at LCY, excellent photos could be taken by mingling amongst the press - a good 20 minutes was spent watching the goings on whilst waiting on the apron.
Here are the film crew on the apron
I like this shot of the MD with two of the passengers……….
These photos show the crew being photographed with the surfboard
There was plenty of time for the short walk to the unnofficial viewing area at LCY from where I watched the dash-8 return to Plymouth and Newquay
A F50 gets airborne
Whilst plymspotter went off to get some breakfast I topped up my Oyster card and took the short trip to Bank on the DLR. As I boarded the DLR I saw another PDQ advert for the airlines service. With perfect weather, after grabbing a drink at Starbucks I decided to walk to see my brother who was working near Battersea Park. This turned out to be a longer walk than anticipated and I had to resort to a short bus ride at the end.
After a picnic with my Brother in Battersea Park I walked through Kensington and onwards to Hyde Park then after a short break walked towards central London and after further exploring made my way back to Bank to catch the DLR back to London City for the return flight. After checking in I returned to the unofficial viewing area where a staff member learnt about my day so far and about the airsouthwest service.
Here are a selection of photos I took:
After seeing my flight approaching I made the short walk through security and through to departures. There were a few spare seats on the return flight and I think the MD was on this flight back too.
The following are a selection of photos taken whilst walking to the aircraft:
We were soon airborne and the weather was still perfect:
The flight arrived back on time and following the short walk back home from the airport there was plenty of time to see what the tv crews had filmed from the trip.............I did another trip on the service two months later when I had a lucky ticket to centre court at Wimbledon and just one month ago I used the service to go to a family wedding. It will be a shame to see the service go but I'm happy to have enjoyed using the service whilst it lasted
This was the Westcountry TV report