The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group has announced that it will cease operating its Islander Skybus aircraft from next year.
Islanders by Baggy Robinson
The company said it will fly with a single fleet of the larger Twin Otter craft from March 2020.
The move is an effort to secure the sustainability of the aviation arm of the Steamship Group following its loss of £500,000 last year.
The company lost an overall £4.6 million across all its services.
Read the full statement from the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group below:
Today we would like to announce that we are beginning the process of moving to operating a single fleet of Twin Otter aircraft on our Skybus routes to and from the islands.
This follows our discussions at this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on how best to improve the efficiency of the currently loss-making air services while maintaining schedules and providing a better experience for our customers.
As detailed in our most recent annual report and at the AGM, the in efficiencies associated with maintaining and operating two different aircraft types - the Twin Otter and smaller Islander aircraft - contributed to the aviation side of the business losing more than £500,000 last year and represent an ongoing threat to the viability of the service.
We also said that action was needed to improve the way in which Skybus services were operated to ensure that we have a robust and sustainable service going forwards, for the benefit of islanders and all those who use these routes.
As a result, from the 14th March 2020, all passenger air services to the Isles of Scilly will be operated by Skybus’s fleet of four Twin Otter aircraft, with Islander aircraft no longer used on passenger routes.
A considerable amount of work in reviewing operations and forward planning has been done to ensure that a more efficient use of our Twin Otter fleet can allow us to fly a schedule to fulfil the demand for the summer of 2020. We are currently in the process of meeting with employees to explain the decision and it is our hope that some of the employees affected by these changes will be redeployed within the business.
We are also meeting with other stakeholders and users of air services, including the NHS and Royal Mail, to discuss arrangements for services going forward.
As well as the move to a Twin Otter fleet, efficiencies are being implemented across the aviation business to reduce losses. Changes have also been made to discount rates to increase revenue without damaging market demand. When combined these changes have already seen an improvement in the financial performance of Skybus and I’m pleased to report that the first six months of trading are above budget. Group profitability is also above budget for the first six months of the year and our 12-month financial forecast is exceeding our financial profit target. The second half of the year is always challenging, as revenues decrease in the Winter months and so we all need to focus on cost control over this period.
While we understand that the decision to move to a single Twin Otter fleet operating to the islands represents a considerable change to the way services are operated, we believe doing so is essential to enable us to provide an improved customer experience while allowing us to secure the future of the aviation side of the business, putting it on a firm financial footing, as a robust, efficient and profitable part of the company, going forward.