Newquay Airport

Passenger numbers down and down, subsidy up and up

17 September 2011

posted by Oliver Baines

It's a long time since a posting on this site, and in the meantime every confident prediction by the aviation industry, and every claim by the Newquay Airport Masterplan, has been shown to be inaccurate, wrong, or just plain misleading.

Now we're faced with the worst of all worlds - an airport in decline, with no plans about how to manage the decline and or sustain it in the absence of massive public subsidy.

So massive public subsidy it is.  Passenger numbers were supposed to be 550,000 and rising by 2012.  Instead they are 239,246 and falling (figures based on provisional statistics for August 2011, annualised).  Meanwhile the official subsidy from Cornwall Council has risen to £3.5m, though cynical observers might consider this only part of the story.  Even at this level it means that on average a family of 4 on a holiday to Dublin, Dubrovnik or Venice, or on the first leg of the journey to their second home in the south of France, are helped by us (yes, that's you and me) to the tune of £14.63 each - each way.  That's a total of £117.03.

When Cornwall is moving into hard times, how is it that we subsidise people to spend their money somewhere else?  How exactly does this help Cornwall?


Groundswell joins forces to challenge airport expansion

February 2009: the consultation for the Masterplan for the expansion of Newquay Airport is over. Now the team who commissioned and advised on the plan will take in the results of the consultation, report themselves well satisfied, and present a barely modified (or possibly unmodified) plan to the County Council at its last meeting in March, for adoption.

Cynical? The Masterplan is based on studies that are partial, biased, loaded and distorted. The scrutiny committee of Cornwall County Council has, in the whole period of the development - two years and counting - not once scrutinised one single aspect of the plans, despite numerous appeals. This means that the business case, based on colossal unending growth in the Cornish economy, the environmental case, presented as if a threefold increase in traffic will barely affect noise levels, CO2 levels, or local pollution levels, and the employment case, based on extraordinary projections of job creation, will go ahead unchallenged.

For us, we have joined with Friends of the Earth, Risingtide, Campaign for Better Transport and the Cornish Green Party to present a response in association with Airportwatch South West.

Click here to read the response (pdf 900kb)

The report reveals numerous flaws in the Masterplan, unrealistic projections and indefensible claims.

Watch this space for more developments.

December 2008: The Masterplan is here at last!

Find the plan, associated documents and consultation timetable at: 

After nearly two years of dithering Cornwall County Council has decided to release the Masterplan for the development of Newquay Airport, incorporating a threefold expansion of passenger numbers between 2007 and 2030.  The timetable is:

  • December: 'public consultations' between 1 and 17 December
  • January 21: draft Masterplan goes to the appropriate scrutiny committee of the County Council
  • end March 2009: final Masterplan goes to the Council.

Groundswell will be responding to the Masterplan in due course.

Newquay Airport Expansion: The Case Examined

This report has been commissioned by Groundswell Cornwall. Its purpose is to assess the case for the expansion of Newquay Airport. The report has been prepared by Elizabeth Baines, a postgraduate student at King's College, London.

The plans for the expansion of the airport come at a pivotal time for Cornwall and its development. Decisions have to be made against a background of rising concern about the impact of climate change, anxiety about energy supplies - particularly oil - a strong desire to protect the economic development of Cornwall, growing pressures on the public purse, and the backdrop of the EU Convergence Programme. Substantial investment is required to bring the airport up to CAA standards. Further significant funds will be required to cater for the proposed dramatic increase in passenger numbers.

However, these funds will be invested into a project that will increase Cornwall's CO2 emissions, that does not appear to take account of rising oil prices, and that will damage our local environment. Furthermore, the report suggests that even the business case for the airport is not as robust as is claimed.

It's time for a debate. We all wish to see a successful, outward looking society, a protected and strengthened environment and a thriving economy for Cornwall. Our fear is that the plans for the airport may undermine the very thing we wish to achieve.

For the full report click on the following link

Newquay Airport The Case Examined revised Oct 2007

SWERDA and regional airports

Following a Freedom of Information request the South West Regional Development Agency (SWERDA) has released its report entitled 'Economic Assessment of South West Regional Airports'.  This states: "the relationship between high growth sectors in the region and air travel appears to be weak" and "air travel may not necessarily be a pre-requisite for economic growth."

For a copy of the report click on the link below.  The file is 6MB and will start to download immediately you click on it.