Rest of Scilly Now & Then Andrew May interview

June 24, 2017

The latest Scilly Now & Then magazine (issue 87) includes a long interview with Isles of Scilly Steamship Group chairman Andrew May about the company's pursuit of a judicial review over the planned heliport in Penzance.   

 

Space constraints meant one question had to be left out. Here it is: 

 

Many will remember that towards the end of the previous helicopter service, ISSG withdrew an agreement for flights to be switched to Land's End, saying that “......after further consideration, we do not think it would be in our best interests to allow the helicopters to operate from St Just......” If it was so wrong then, why are you so keen for the helicopters to fly from there now?

 

Here is Andrew's answer:

This goes back to my first comment that nothing in life is simple. From memory, there were three approaches to the ISSG by British International Helicopters. Two were accepted and one rebuffed. The first time, around 2007/8, we said yes. We could see the benefits of economies of scale, and we could understand that fares to customers could be lower, potentially more would come to the islands, we would have a more prosperous economy, and that it would be in the common good. So we absolutely said yes.

 

We got into quite detailed negotiations and were making really good progress and suddenly BIH simply stopped talking to us. It was amazing! Two or three years later they approached us again and said can we come to Land's End. It was strange because they literally weren’t replying to our letters or emails before that.

 

At that point we had just made a decision to spend £1 million on upgrading Scillonian 3 and there isn’t an infinite pot of money. We knew what would be required in terms of adjustments to the terminal (which we did subsequently when Skybus was called to take on the whole market) with heliport landing pads, fuelling etc. The helicopters were much heavier than the ones planned now and it would be major piece of work to find a pad that would fit at Land's End.

 

At that point we said no, not at the moment, because of that major commitment to the Scillonian, which is so important to the islands. So we did rebuff them, having already offered them very generous terms before. I think there was a third occasion, and I need to check this, where we said yes but it didn’t go very far. So it’s just too simple to say we haven’t been open to this in the past. We have.

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