Airline announces new Plymouth to London route
CITY airline Air Southwest says it is “set to revolutionise travel between Plymouth and London” with a new route flying from Plymouth to the heart of the capital.
The airline announced yesterday a new twice-daily direct service from Plymouth to London City Airport which it pledged would “fly to the heart of London in just over an hour”. Bosses also said the new service, beginning on April 20, would provide a full business day in London and be “quicker and cheaper than the train”, with all-in fares ranging from £29 to about £100.
The new Monday-to-Friday service will begin at Newquay, departing from there at 7.45am before picking up at 8.20am from Plymouth and landing in London at 9.30am.
There will be a 9.55am service from London City, arriving in Plymouth at 11.05am.
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Return times Monday to Friday will be 5.25pm from Plymouth to London, and 7.05pm from London, landing in Plymouth at 8.15pm.
London City Airport is six miles from the capital, and three miles from Canary Wharf, with the nearby Docklands Light Railway giving “easy access to whole of London every 10 minutes”, said Air Southwest bosses yesterday.
New managing director Peter Davies said: “This London City service will revolutionise air travel between Plymouth and the capital.
“We expect it to be hugely popular with business travellers and have timed the flights to fit with busy working lives.”
Nigel Godefroy, chief executive of Air Southwest’s parent company, the Sutton Harbour Group, said: “These London City flights demonstrate our commitment to developing new and innovative air services to and from the South West, and our support for the regional economy.”
Richard Gooding OBE, chief executive of London City Airport, said: “Air Southwest passengers will be able to travel to London’s financial centres faster than any other way with this new service.”
Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said yesterday: “After so much bad news in the economy this announcement will be a massive confidence boost.
“Time is money for business travellers, especially in the current climate, and this new route will be a lifeline for Plymouth businesses that want quick and easy access to the heart of the capital.”
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of South West Tourism, added: “These flights create a vast new catchment in central London that will be a valuable addition to inbound tourism, especially in the short break market.”
John Taynton, a director of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is fantastic news for Plymouth’s business community,” while Devonport MP Alison Seabeck said: “This is good news for Plymouth and good news for Air Southwest.
“The ease with which you can now travel to all the sights and tourist attractions from London City Airport has been boosted by the Docklands Light Railway. It certainly makes this route very attractive for both business travellers and tourists.”
South West Devon MP Gary Streeter spoke to The Herald yesterday on his way to London – on a train taking more than three hours.
“I think that will be a tremendous step forward for Plymouth,” he said. “That kind of link to the capital in just over an hour will be very much sought after. I’ll certainly give it a go.”
Mr Davies, Air Southwest MD for only five weeks, said the firm was in “expansive mood” and wanted to “invest and spend” rather than “moan and groan” during the recession.
It was important that the new service was aimed at both business and leisure passengers, he said, as well as it being a way to “attract more businesses to this part of the world”.
Market conditions were not good, but the airline “intends to expand its operations and re-invest itself in the market here in the West Country”.
It also planned to look at more opportunities for flights to European destinations such as to Paris, Amsterdam and German airports.
He said: “We need more dialogue with the local community and visitor focus groups.”
By rail, Plymouth to London takes a minimum of three hours, with a typical economy fare of £70. The distance by road is 213 miles, taking an average four hours and 35 minutes.
Charles Howeson, chairman of the Plymouth Area Business Council and train operator First Great Western, said: “I applaud Air Southwest’s new initiative. This is going to be excellent for business in the city.”
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