Ideally sited airport
I USED to be a pilot with South West Aviation, of Exeter Airport, in the early 70s, flying a great deal from Roborough and would like to congratulate The Herald on the coverage and presentation of the case for Plymouth airport (particularly that there is no site anything like as good as this to be had and we must not lose the chance). Most scenarios have been covered.
However, although my experiences are long ago, some things do not change and may be worth recounting even though we were quite primitive in those days – very little in the way of electronic navigation aids, grass runways and paraffin 'goose-neck' lamps to mark the runway edges.
The siting of the airfield was just right for taking serious burns cases from Derriford up to Filton for Frenchay Burns Hospital and people with broken necks to RAF Halton for Stoke Mandeville Spinal Hospital. It was very convenient for business passengers from Estover to Beauvais north of Paris and many more could be quoted.
When we operated the Short Skyliner service to London Heathrow we were the most regular airline for arrivals at LHR at that time, the regularity equalling that for BEA's departures! British Rail complained that our fare for the single journey was undercutting their first class fare of six guineas at the time. The problem was that we needed to average eight passengers per flight in our 15 seats available and our average was just six. BEA did our ground handling for us and a regular passenger to East Midlands (Castle Donnington) never missed his British Midland connection with a 20-minute scheduled transfer time from 9.20am until 9.40am. Passengers carried their own bags and so there was never a mislaid bag. But in our context this just shows how SouthWest, the Airport Authority, British European Airways and the Baggage Handlers and their unions could all co-operate and work together splendidly. It is a situation worth repeating. Long may the airport continue.
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