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Cleared for Sunday take-off

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: October 31, 2013

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FLIGHTS are set to operate to and from the Isles of Scilly seven days a week in a move to boost the islands' tourism economy.

The principle of Sunday operations to and from the islands' airport has been approved and negotiations are to take place with airline operators with a view to an April 2014 start.

It was estimated the move could generate an extra 4,000 to 6,000 visitors a year.

One dissenting councillor claimed, "it will change Scilly forever", while an onlooker murmured dramatically "heaven help Scilly now".

Sunday flying has long been a contentious issue. Many claim the "never on Sundays" quirk represents Scilly's very essence and difference while others say Scilly's economy is "propped up" by tourism and, in recession, cannot afford not to change.

The latter view prevailed as the islands' council overwhelmingly endorsed, by 14 votes to 2 the transport committee's recommendation.

Despite the emphatic vote it was agreed to review the move after three years, a safeguard described by Councillor Fran Grottick as "pivotal".

The review call was proposed by Richard McCarthy who initially had reservations about Sunday flying.

Councillor after councillor spoke of the need to arrest the decline in tourism numbers despite claims that Scilly's appeal of peace and tranquillity would be jeopardised.

Richard McCarthy saw the maintenance of the status quo more of a risk than any "cultural change". Mike Nelhams said much travelling had convinced him of the need for weekend movement.

James Francis said " a great swathe" of potential visitors did not come to Scilly because they were precluded from doing so by the current Sunday flying block. Scilly was "propped up" by the visitor trade, he said.

Mike Nelhams said: "We can't continue to go backwards."

Robert Dorrien Smith thought Sunday operations a "vital stepping stone to recovery".

One of the duo who voted against the proposal, Adrian Davis, called for consultation with islanders. He had "strong reservations" about the decision.

He claimed people came to Scilly "not because they can fly in or out on a Sunday but because we have something to offer that is different". He said allowing Sunday flights was a move "that will change Scilly forever".

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