Scilly video games: the islands’ battle of the choppers | Travel

Two rival corporations are bidding to start out a brand new helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly this spring, the primary since 2012

Island Helicopters plans to start out flights to Scilly in May

It’s a well-recognized transport story however for the individuals of the Isles of Scilly it’s been a case of ready six years for a helicopter to the mainland after which two coming alongside without delay.

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company made a “shock” announcement on Thursday, when it mentioned it could launch its new service from Land’s End airport to the islands in May.

Named Island Helicopters, the brand new 10-seater helicopter will run year-round, six days every week and with eight return flights a day to the islands of St Mary’s and Tresco. However, the news has cut up opinion among the many islanders, who had been already anticipating a brand new service to launch this spring from Penzance, financed by Robert Dorrien-Smith, whose household property is leased Tresco island by the Duchy of Cornwall.

Dorrien-Smith has been behind plans to launch Penzance Heliport since 2016. He criticised the Steamship Company, which additionally runs the islands’ ferry and aircraft companies, accusing it of monopolising the transport infrastructure, whereas additionally arguing that Land’s End is an unsuitable location for a heliport.

The earlier helicopter service, which led to 2012, was compelled to maneuver from Land’s End to Penzance after a 12 months on account of unreliable climate circumstances.

Land’s End ​airport – which suffers disruption on one in each 4 days annually – is the issue, not the answer

Robert Dorrien-Smith

“The near sea-level location of the Penzance Heliport site is the keystone to reinstating a reliable, weather-resilient helicopter service to the Isles of Scilly,” mentioned Dorrien-Smith. “Land’s End airport – which suffers disruption on one in every four days each year – is the problem, not the solution.”

He added: “Today’s announcement sadly signals no more than one company tightening its stranglehold further on these islands. It is a blatant attempt to retain a monopoly that is not working in the interests of these islands.”

Andrew May, chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, mentioned: “We know there is demand from thousands of people who have really missed the helicopter. We’ve listened to that demand, investigated what we believe can work, and have partnered with Specialist Aviation Services (SAS) to make it happen. This gives visitors and islanders more choice over how they travel and makes the transport network more resilient, which is exactly what our customers say they want.”

He added that it plans to fly to St Mary’s airport and Tresco, and the company is renewing its provide to Tresco to determine the route. When requested by The Guardian, the Tresco Estate mentioned it had not obtained any contact from the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, so couldn’t touch upon if the route can be working to the island.

Tresco, Isles of Scilly

Tresco, Isles of Scilly

Demand for a helicopter service has been excessive for the reason that final one stopped six years in the past after nearly 50 years in operation. When Penzance Heliport put its first planning proposal ahead to Cornwall Council in 2017, it obtained 2,600 messages of assist – a file for a planning software.

The helicopter was thought of a significant connection in situations of emergency, in addition to being a well-liked vacationer attraction in its personal proper, with many guests to the islands contemplating the brief flight a part of the expertise of a visit to the isles. Tourism at present makes up greater than 80% of the native financial system.

Being in a position to fly in low visibility, it additionally supplied a extra resilient transport connection to the mainland than a aircraft, which could be disrupted by poor climate. The ferry service stops in winter, from November to March, which means poor climate generally go away islanders stranded.

Beth Hilton, editor of local people journal and news web site Scilly Now and Then, mentioned: “There was real concern about the islands’ increased isolation and vulnerability, particularly regarding medical access. Most locals are very enthusiastic about a helicopter service, although feelings about who should provide it are mixed. There are some reservations about it running from Land’s End in case the same visibility issues would apply to the helicopter as the plane, so most feel it would be better in Penzance.”

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