Newquay Public Service Contract To Be Awarded Next Month

2021 has seen airports face the challenge of recovering from the impacts of COVID-19. One facility that has had a comparatively positive year is Cornwall Airport Newquay. NQY has enjoyed investment and high passenger figures, but is currently without a direct connection to London. However, a contract for this looks set to be awarded next month.

Newquay Airport
Flights to London were among NQY’s most popular in recent years. Photo: Cornwall Airport Newquay

Nearly a month without London flights

Newquay ranked 32nd in UK’s busiest airports for 2020. Even in 2019, the last full year of pre-pandemic normality, it was just 30th. However, despite these comparatively low rankings, NQY serves a more diverse array of destinations than you might think.

This summer saw Swiss leisure carrier Edelweiss Air begin to serve Newquay, making Zürich its sixth international destination at the time. Of course, regional flights to all corners of the British Isles also play a significant role in terms of the airport’s day-to-day traffic.

Indeed, carriers such as Eastern Airways and Loganair serve Newquay on a year-round basis, flying to the likes of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, and Newcastle. However, one destination not currently on the departure boards is London. According to the BBC, there hasn’t been a direct flight from NQY to the British capital since September 28th.

Newquay British Airways
BA previously served Newquay from its London Heathrow hub. Photo: Cornwall Airport Newquay

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PSO contract to be awarded in November

According to Cornwall Live, flights between Newquay and London had previously been subsidized by the government through a public service obligation (PSO) contract. This ensured that Cornwall had a direct connection to the British capital all year round. However, the collapse of former operator Flybe in March 2020 saw this come to an abrupt halt.

Since then, airline service between Newquay and London has been sporadic. BA has served the route from its Heathrow base, but typically only on a seasonal basis during the summer. That being said, 2020 did see the UK government pay its flag carrier £4,000 ($5,526) per flight to operate the PSO contract on a temporary, seven-month basis.

Flybe Newquay
Flybe operated the Newquay-London PSO flights before its collapse. Photo: Cornwall Airport Newquay

BA’s seasonal flights to Heathrow have now ended for the year. As such, it is in Newquay Airport’s interest to restore a subsidized, year-round connection to the British capital. This looks to be around the corner, with the BBC reporting that Cornwall Council will appoint an airline in November. This will see the chosen carrier fulfill the contract for four years.

Simple Flying reached out to the airport for a statement on the matter. However, NQY cannot provide any comments while the council’s process of appointing an airline is ongoing. Nonetheless, with a decision reportedly coming early next month, and flights starting soon afterward, we hopefully won’t have to wait long to see the outcome.

Newquay Airport
Newquay Airport even handled Air Force One earlier this year. Photo: Cornwall Airport Newquay

A comparatively positive year

Securing a direct service to London in the form of the aforementioned PSO contract would top off what has been, all things considered, a good year for Cornwall Airport Newquay. It hosted the aircraft of delegates at this year’s G7 Summit, including Air Force One. This saw NQY receive a £7.8 million ($10.8 million) investment package to upgrade its facilities.

Newquay has also performed well this year when it comes to passenger numbers. Indeed, Simple Flying reported in April that the airport was preparing to serve a record number of direct routes over the summer. All in all, it saw 10 airlines fly to 15 destinations. The next step of its recovery will be to reconnect with the British capital. Watch this space…

Which airline would you like to receive the Newquay-London PSO contract? Have you ever flown between London and Cornwall before? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.