Eastern Air Secures London To Newquay Public Service Order

Eastern Airways is to begin flying between Cornwall’s Newquay Airport and London, reconnecting the English regional airport to the capital. Under a four-year deal, Eastern Airways will commence flying the route in December.

Eastern Airways will start flying between Cornwall Newquay Airport & London in December. Photo: Eastern Airways

London route resumes in December

Flybe flew the 210 mile (338 kilometer) sector between Newquay and London until it went out of business in March 2020. British Airways later operated a summer seasonal service from Heathrow, but that ended in late September. Since then, no airline has operated the route.

In 2019, up to 35 flights a week were operating between Newquay and London. The route operates under public service obligation provisions, meaning the operator receives government subsidies to ensure a year-round service. It is understood Eastern is receiving £5 million from the UK Government and Cornwall Council in a four-year deal.

Little known outside the UK, Humberside-based Eastern Airways already flies from Newquay to Leeds. The airline’s fleet of ATR 72-600s, BAe Jetstream 41s, and a sole Embraer E190 jet fly between 13 destinations in the UK and offers seasonal flights to Gibraltar. 

The airline previously flew to London Heathrow but relatively recently ended its flights there. The Newquay to London flights will mark the airline’s return to the capital.

Eastern Airways already connects Cornwall Newquay Airport to Leeds. Photo: Cornwall Newquay Airport

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Initial announcement light on details but further information expected soon

An attempt to award the Newquay to London contract to an airline earlier this year was unsuccessful. In July, Cornwall Council tried again, this time striking it lucky with Eastern Airways. But details on schedules and exactly when in December the first flight will take off remain sketchy. In a statement, Cornwall Council said;

“Following the decision taken on the reintroduction of the PSO between Newquay and London last week, the council is working with the Department for Transport, Eastern Airways, and the airports on the final details and expect to make an official announcement regarding the schedule and sale of seats next week.”

Also missing in the announcement is which London airport the flights will use, although London Gatwick is the unconfirmed likeliest contender. In a statement, Newquay Airport said they’d received a large number of inquiries regarding the reinstatement of the year-round service.

The airport says operating under public service obligation provisions secures the necessary slots at a London airport and ensures that the flights operate regularly throughout the year – not just in the busy summer months.

Cornwall Newquay Airport from the air. Photo: Cornwall Newquay Airport

A welcome reconnection for Cornwall Newquay Airport

Cornwall Newquay Airport already hosts regional airlines such as Eastern Airways and Loganair, which fly in from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, and Newcastle. Last summer saw Swiss leisure carrier Edelweiss Air begin to serve Newquay, making Zürich Newquay’s sixth international destination at the time.

But the absence of London-bound flights is a big problem for Cornwall locals. Simple Flying’s route analyst James Pearson recently told the BBC the flights were much missed.

“In 2019, nearly half of all Newquay’s passengers were to and from London – it’s the foundation of the entire airport. Now, no London airport is anywhere near the top of the list.

“It is all about the winter, and it is going from five flights a day [in winter 2019], down to no flights a week – that is horrendous for an isolated community. It’s a ridiculous drop.”