Flybe and Gatwick airport have teamed up to offer an alternative for rail passengers hoping to travel between Cornwall and London. From next Wednesday, the regional airline is doubling its daily flights from Newquay to the Sussex airport, from three to six a day.
The Great Western line was severed at Dawlish on the South Devon coast on Wednesday, when storms wreck the bed of the track that runs along the shore.
Flybe, which is based at Exeter airport, has tweaked its planned flying programme to free up a 118-seat Embraer 195 aircraft. The extra flights will operate for an initial period of two weeks, while demand for the additional seats is assessed.
Gatwick has waived charges on the additional services, which are being sold for £37 each way.
Paul Simmons, Flybe’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We have no wish to take advantage of this very difficult situation by inflating fares and can assure our customers that our fares policy will be managed in exactly the same way as always.”
Passengers will be unable to avoid the £5 “Airport Development Fee” (ADF) applied by Newquay airport on all departing passengers aged 16 or over. In a statement on its website, the airport said: “Without the contribution of the ADF the airport would not have been able to develop and provide the improved facilities it offers passengers now, would not have been able to achieve the transition from military to civilian airport and therefore the airport would have closed.”
Meanwhile, an online petition has been launched to press for the re-opening of the railway line across Dartmoor. It was started by Peter Robson, who said: “There has been a long-standing wish to see an alternative rail route into Cornwall, with an extension of the Exeter to Okehampton line through Tavistock to Plymouth. Faced with the clear threat to the Dawlish line, sharply focused on due to the February storms, this is now a priority.”