A new helicopter link between Penzance and Isles of Scilly will launch next month - despite its flagship aircraft being delayed due to Coronavirus.

The Penzance Helicopters service will fly direct to St Mary’s and Tresco from March 17, creating a link between the town and the islands for the first time since 2012.

Bosses has vowed to launch on time, despite a delay to the arrival of the new AW139 helicopter that will be providing the transfers.

This has been caused by current Chinese export restrictions linked to Coronavirus control measures as, following manufacture in Italy, the aircraft had been on a short duration contract in China.

Despite being ready for shipment to Europe now, the export restrictions have delayed its planned entry into service.

Instead, Sloane Helicopters, which is in charge of the service, is providing a back-up aircraft from its fleet until the AW139 arrives.

The temporary replacement craft is the AW109SP GrandNew helicopter, which is described by Sloane as a "modern, state-of-the-art craft, complete with outstanding safety characteristics and aircraft performance", like its counterpart.

The exact timing of the AW139’s arrival is unknown, although it is hoped the aircraft could be welcomed home to Penzance by the end of March.

Jeremy Awenat, managing director of Sloane Helicopters, said: “We see it as our responsibility to deliver a robust and resilient direct air link – and despite unforeseen international delays, our commitment stands and the service for Scilly will launch as planned.

"Our Penzance Helicopters service will be of great benefit to both islanders and visitors – much improving connectivity to the Isles of Scilly.”

Next month's service launch means the return of a heliport in Penzance for the first time since the last one closed in October 2012.

Helicopters will fly six days a week, with a connection time of 15 minutes.