Despite COVID-19 Newquay Airport Expects Record Airline Numbers

Newquay will have 10 airlines this summer, a record in recent years. 15 non-stop routes will be operated, but Manchester has overtaken any London airport. This hasn’t been helped by the London PSO contract not being awarded, meaning London currently has just five weekly departures in the peak summer – the same as Teesside. But while Teesside has two airlines, London has just one – for now.

easyJet A319
easyJet is one of 10 airlines to serve Newquay this summer. Photo: Getty Images.

Cornwall Airport Newquay expects a record summer, at least in terms of the number of airlines. Some 10 airlines will touchdown, up from six in summer 2019 and five in most summers.

But Newquay’s capacity is still down enormously, with just 179,000 seats scheduled, OAG data indicates, a reduction of 57% versus two summers ago. With 303,000 seats in summer 2019, the loss of Flybe is obviously the driving reason, with the new number-one carrier – Loganair – having just under 50,000.

Newquay Airport
Imagine the opposite approach over the sea on a warm summer’s day. Photo: Getty Images.

10 airlines this summer

In summer 2019, Flybe, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Isles of Scilly Skybus, Eurowings, and SAS all served Newquay. Flybe had over seven in ten seats and was all-important. SAS was new then, with a twice-weekly peak-season service from Copenhagen using CRJ-900s.

Four of those six carriers will operate this summer, joined by Loganair, British Airways, easyJet, Eastern Airways, Blue Islands, and Edelweiss. easyJet is to begin both Manchester and Glasgow, with the low-cost carrier last serving the Cornish airport between 2013 and 2015.

Newquay’s airline portfolio has changed and increased significantly, aided by the loss of Flybe, the growth of staycation demand, and the continued uncertainty surrounding foreign holidays. Moreover, the UK government has revealed plans to review the Air Passenger Duty (APD) on domestic flights.

Loganair Embraer
Loganair is Newquay’s largest airline this summer. Photo: Getty Images.

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15 non-stop routes

Newquay has 15 non-stop routes this summer, of which nine are domestic, and six are international. Given the loss of Flybe and the continued threat from coronavirus, this is impressive, doubly so given the increase in the number of carriers.

Nonetheless, various destinations have been cut versus 2019: Belfast City; Birmingham; Doncaster; Liverpool; London Southend; Stuttgart; and Copenhagen. And Aberdeen, which was served non-stop, is no longer. Instead, it is now via Newcastle, although three-weekly by Loganair versus a once-weekly non-stop service with Flybe for just five weeks.

Simple Flying recently showed that Edelweiss, a new operator at Newquay, will begin a once-weekly Zurich service from July 4th. The Swiss airport, along with Teesside, is a new route compared to 2019, while various destinations – notably Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Newcastle – have all grown strongly versus 2019. However, the fate of London service – especially year-round – remains very uncertain.

Newquay's routes
Newquay’s routes this summer. Image: GCMap.

What’s happening with London?

London has always been the foundation of Newquay airport’s network, both before the public service obligation (PSO) was announced back in 2018 and since. London had 43% of Newquay’s passengers in 2019, UK CAA data indicates.

But that has changed, at least temporarily, with the contract for the latest PSO not being awarded, as shown in the tweet and link below. Manchester is now scheduled to be the Cornish airport’s top route this summer. The exact reasons for not awarding the contract remain unknown, but it is likely to have been because no agreement could be reached over the exact terms of service.

Over 197,000 London passengers

In 2019, 197,355 people flew between Newquay and London, the highest year in the past decade, with Gatwick, Heathrow, and Southend all served at different points. For many years, Gatwick was obviously the core, with such passengers rising by 68% between 2015 (103,513) and 2018 (173,446), the year before it switched to Heathrow.

Newquay to London
Newquay to London passengers passed 197,000 in 2019. Source: UK CAA.

Teesside to have more airlines than London

In a mid-August week in 2019, Flybe had 35 weekly departures from Newquay to London. Heathrow was connected 28-weekly with Dash-8-400s, while Southend was linked seven-weekly with ATR-72s.

In the same week this year, London has just five weekly services with British Airways to Heathrow, clearly showing the opportunity and the need for more. In contrast, Manchester will have 13 weekly services, while Heathrow will have the same number of flights as Dublin, Edinburgh, Newcastle – and Teesside. In fact, Teesside will be served by two airlines against just one to London.

Eastern Airways J41
Eastern Airways will serve both Leeds Bradford and Teesside, with the latter in direct competition with Loganair. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia.

What are the options for London?

While the lack of more summer service is clearly concerning, so is no winter service, with BA’s flights ending on September 4th. The lack of winter service is especially problematic for those traveling to the capital.

Potential options include the following, although all are more likely for the summer:

  1. British Airways extends service to Heathrow
  2. Eastern Airways use the Gatwick slots it got awarded, although these are only for this summer
  3. Jet2 launch Stansted (it will have six new routes to Jersey this summer)
  4. Wizz Air begins Luton or Gatwick, although Luton is perhaps too close in terms of easier and quicker overland travel
  5. easyJet begins Gatwick, adding to its coming Manchester and Glasgow services
easyJet Newquay
Earlier this year, easyJet filed to operate Gatwick-Newquay. Image: OAG.

easyJet coming?

Simple Flying thinks that easyJet is one of the most obvious and simplest. In fact, earlier this year, it had filed for Gatwick-Newquay, as shown above. It had planned a three-weekly service between late June and early September, mainly using A319s. While Manchester and Glasgow were announced, Gatwick wasn’t. It could now be back on the table.

What would you like to see happen with Newquay’s London service? Comment below!