Shortage of passengers shuts down airport

Plymouth City Airport has to close because it does not have enough passengers to justify keeping it open, the head of its parent company said yesterday.

Sutton Harbour Group told the Stock Exchange yesterday that it would close the loss-making Devon transport hub in December, putting 56 jobs at risk.

Its chief executive, Nigel Godefroy, said the loss in February of flights connecting Plymouth with London, which accounted for half the airport’s passengers, coupled with the troubled national economy, meant it was no longer financially viable. The airport is due to make a loss of £1m this year.

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“We have fought tooth and nail to do our best for the city. But we are in a situation where it was not sustainable for a commercial organisation,” Mr Godefroy said.

“Ultimately it is all about bums on seats. We were down to less than 100 passengers per day.

“I think the lack of people using the airport indicates it is perhaps not as important (to the city) as I would have hoped and indeed others would have hoped.”

The company has owned the airport for 11 years, during which time it even launched a new airline, Air Southwest, to link Plymouth with London when the previous provider pulled out.

The airport had been marginalised by fierce competition with larger airports.

Air Southwest was sold to Hull-based Eastern Airways in November last year.