Cornwall Council has welcomed the formal confirmation from the Department for Transport that the air service between Newquay Cornwall Airport and the London region is eligible for a Public Service obligation (PSO).

Earlier this month the Council held initial discussions with the Department for Transport regarding the possibility of the Government providing a subsidy on the route between Newquay and London to help secure the long term future of this vital air link.

“The news that the route is eligible for a PSO is obviously good news for the Council and for Cornwall and I would like to thank everyone who has helped us to put our case to the Government” said Adam Paynter, cabinet member for partnerships.

The next stage is for the Department for Transport to formally notify the European Commission of its decision. This will then be followed by the Council issuing tender documents inviting airlines to submit bids to operate a service.

Under EC regulations, airlines must have a two month period in which to prepare and submit bids to the Council. At the same time discussions are also continuing with a number of airlines outside the PSO process to see if there are any opportunities for the service to continue to be provided without the need for a PSO.

Imposing a PSO on the route between Newquay and London will mean the Government providing a subsidy to an operator to deliver the connection for a four year period. This will provide a much more secure future for the route than the current situation which relies on the commercial decisions of an operator.

“Although our aim is to tender for a new service to begin on 1 April 2014, the length of the formal process means that it is possible that it will not be in place until later in the summer. This would result in a short break in service” said Mr Paynter.

“The Department of Transport is very aware of the issues which we are facing and the need for a decision to be made as quickly as possible “.

The council is continuing to work closely with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership on this issue.

The Chairman of the Partnership Chris Pomfret said “The provision of a regular year-round service from Newquay to a London hub airport with a schedule that works for business is vital to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

"The LEP fully supports this move to try and secure a PSO on the route and we will shortly issue a call for evidence to local businesses to help argue the case for air links to a London hub airport."