Group wants Plymouth City Airport to take off again

Group wants to bring back Plymouth City Airport, claiming it will be viable, and offering above market value for the site

By Richard Harding   |   Kingsbridge and Ivybridge reporter   |
Wednesday 11th May 2022 1:00 pm
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Raoul Witherall
(FlyPlymouth )

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A group is trying to bring back Plymouth City Airport which until its closure in 2011 provided a major travel option for people in the South Hams.

FlyPlymouth has offered to take over the lease for above its market value for the 113-acre site.

Speaking to the Business Travel News website Chief Executive of FlyPlymouth Raoul Witherall said: “FlyPlymouth was created by individuals from the local business community and has the plans, the team and the backers in place to deliver. Prior to FlyPlymouth, Witherall founded a big-data predictive analytics start-up in Plymouth with 70 employees working at the limits of speed and scale. The company went on to raise more than £30m funding, eventually listing on the AIM market.”

Plymouth City Airport ATC
(Richard Harding ) (Richard Harding)

The start-up was founded to acquire, reopen and operate Plymouth Airport.

Raoul explained: “Let’s talk about Plymouth. A growing city in the southwest of England that is home to a major naval base, two universities and a League One football club.

Some 400,000 people live within the Plymouth area, enjoying the Devon lifestyle surrounded by areas of outstanding natural beauty, moorlands, beaches and nearby coastal towns and villages.

But Plymouth is a peripheral city, with rail journeys from London of three to four hours.

It does have an airport though. For now. Mothballed and safeguarded. Plymouth was home to the airlines Brymon and Air Southwest.

Despite its modest size, Plymouth Airport was busy and growing. Destinations included London City and Gatwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle, Guernsey, Jersey, Dublin, Cork with seasonal services to Grenoble.”

Developers are after the land because it is considered ‘brownfield’ and, although it is protected for now, further building could seal the fate of the airport for good.

40,000 protest letters were sent in to and try to get the airport reopened. As a result there was a unanimous vote of city councillors to support the idea and the airport was given protection in the Local Plan.

Raoul concluded: “We have a robust plan supported by current evidence and financial backers. There are so many good opportunities right now around electric aviation, UAV operations, skills and training in emergent industries for a city that has been granted freeport status.

We have held many meetings with the various parties; made funded offers to acquire the airport at multiples of the market value in an attempt to get the thing done.

Yet nothing happens. Council officers press on with their ‘airport options’ paying little heed to external influences.

Not that the aviation evidence is absent. The research is clear. Commercial aviation opportunities at Plymouth have never been as strong as they are now.

So we press on. Convinced of the case for aviation at Plymouth. Convinced of the importance of an airport to Plymouth’s future prosperity and well-being.

It has cost a substantial amount of time and money backed by a few private individuals to stay with this issue. But we see ourselves as contending for a better future for Plymouth, so we consider it worthwhile.”

FlyPlymouth have a website flyplymouth.com and a Facebook page.

Plymouth City Airport sign
Plymouth City Airport sign (Richard Harding ) (Richard Harding)

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