Flybe has agreed a commercial deal that will enable the airline to continue operating flights between Newquay and London Gatwick, for now.
The flights from March 30 until October 25 next year on a twice daily basis are "specifically designed to provide a seamless service" whilst Cornwall Council completes the process for Public Service Obligation (PSO) funding for the route from October 2014.
Flybe says its u-turn on Newquay Gatwick flights is only a short-term measure and the route needs public subsidies to survive.
The move has been welcomed by Cornwall Council, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and Cornwall’s six MPs.
A council spokesman said: "Since the announcement by Flybe in May that it was to terminate its service at the end of March 2014, the Council has been working with partners to explore a number of options to ensure the service is maintained.
"These included identifying an alternative operator to operate the service. However, following doubts over the long term viability of the route, the Council also held discussions with the Department of Transport over the possibility of the Government providing a subsidy on the route between Newquay and London.
"Last month the Department confirmed that the route was eligible for a Public Service Obligation and work is now underway to issue tender documents inviting airlines to submit bids to operate the service in line with EC regulations. However, as this complex process is not likely to be completed until Autumn 2014, it would have meant a short break in the service.
"Today’s announcement by Flybe means that the air link between Newquay and Gatwick will now continue until 25 October, the end of the formal summer season, by which time a new service is expected to be in place."
“This is very good news for Cornwall“ said Adam Paynter, the council’s cabinet member for partnerships. “The air link between Newquay and London is vital for the economy of Cornwall and I am delighted that Flybe has decided to continue to operate the service next Summer.
“I would like to formally thank the LEP and our MP’s for their support in exploring ways of maintaining this link and look forward to continuing to work with them and the Government over securing the route in the longer term”.
Chris Pomfret, the Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said “The provision of a regular year round service to a London hub airport with a schedule that works for businesses is vital to the economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“I know that many businesses were very concerned about the impact of a break in the service over the Summer and I am sure they will join me in welcoming Flybe’s decision. However, we must ensure this is the first step in delivering a long term secure daily all year round service that is so essential if Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are to improve economically.“
Stephen Gilbert, the MP for Newquay and St Austell is delighted with Flybe’s decision. “'I know I speak on behalf of all the Cornish MPs in welcoming this news and will be working with them over the coming months to make the case to Government for further support to ensure this important air service is safeguarded for the next four years.”
In committing to the route for the IATA summer season, Flybe says it has "ensured that travellers will retain their convenient and vital air link to and from the country’s capital during the crucial summer season".
The Flybe service means that passengers will be able to fly to the capital and connect onward to overseas destinations.
Paul Simmons, Flybe’s newly appointed chief commercial officer says: “Flybe has been working hard with Newquay Cornwall Airport over the past couple of months to try and secure a satisfactory resolution for Cornwall to retain a crucial lifeline air link to and from London. This is critical both for leisure and business travellers who also need the security of a schedule that allows the opportunity for convenient day returns. Flybe is therefore very pleased to have agreed a commercial deal with the airport that secures the seamless operation of this key route until the end of October next year.”
Mr Simmons added that Flybe will soon be announcing details of a brand new summer route between Newquay and Birmingham.
Al Titterington, Managing Director of Newquay Cornwall Airport comments: “We are extremely pleased with the agreement reached with Flybe for them to continue operating the vital link between Newquay and Gatwick through to autumn 2014.
"Flybe services from Newquay to Gatwick and Manchester offer direct connectivity in addition to the opportunity for passengers to connect onwards to destinations across UK and Europe on the Flybe network. We also welcome the introduction of the new route to Birmingham. This latest development illustrates the airport’s development strategy of connecting Cornwall with major business centres in the UK.”