Plane takes the strain for South West?s London commuters
Three months after the start of new air links from Newquay and Plymouth to London City Airport, thousands of South West travellers have taken advantage of the speed, convenience and cost advantages of flights into the heart of the capital.
Air Southwest’s new service, which started on 20th April, was designed to meet the needs of business passengers by providing fast and reliable links to London City Airport.
Just over 70 minutes after taking off from Plymouth (and under 2 hours from Newquay) the airline’s twice daily service touches down at London City Airport, enabling air commuters to enjoy a full working day in London without the need for an overnight stay and saving an average of four hours travelling time on each return trip from Plymouth (5.45 hours from Newquay) compared to the rail alternative, and even greater time savings than by road.
For busy executives the plane is now beating the train and car as the transport method of choice, with a high proportion of Air Southwest’s London City customers using a same day return service.
The flexibility to mix and match flights with Air Southwest’s four-times daily London Gatwick services has also taken off.
A new search function on the airline’s website enables customers to compare times and prices of all flights between London and the South West and makes it possible to book an outbound flight to London City and return flight from London Gatwick within a single transaction.
Peter Davies, managing director of Air Southwest, said: “When we launched our London City service three months ago we set out to revolutionise air travel between Devon, Cornwall and London and the feedback we’ve received from our business customers in particular, confirms that we’ve achieved our objective.
Fares start from just £29 all-in each way, including taxes, charges and baggage, with no hidden extras, and offer passengers a competitively priced option compared to the slower rail alternative. Routes are flown by Air Southwest’s fleet of fuel efficient Dash 8-300 regional aircraft, offering fuel consumption levels equivalent to 70 miles per gallon per passenger which is often better than other land-based travel options.
The convenience of up to six flights a day to London is helping some business passengers to strike a more comfortable work–life balance; many are using the London City service on a regular basis to commute to London on a Monday morning and return later in the week.
Claire Whelan works as a Market Insight Manager for an international magazine publishing house in London and frequently uses Air Southwest’s London City Service to commute to London. She said: “The flights are really quick and offer great connections to the tube network. I work three days a week in London and two days from Cornwall so I’ve been able to plan my travel requirements and book tickets quite far in advance to get the lowest fares which offer excellent value for money.
"The 7pm flights are really useful because I’m able to leave work at 5pm and have plenty of time to catch my flight and still get back to Cornwall earlier than if I’d caught a train at rush hour.”
Sally Baxter works for the international HR specialists Penna and splits her working week between the head office in London and her home in Plymouth. She said: “Air Southwest’s flights from my local airport to London City have made a huge difference to me. I made the decision two and a half years ago to live in the South West and work in London but in my attempt to strike a good work life balance I found that the train was rather hard work.
"Travelling by air and saving two hours on my Monday morning commute to London means that I can start meetings earlier and generally feel more energized at the start of my working week. I enjoy the warm welcome I always receive from the cabin-crew and the fact that I’m treated as an individual, not just a ticket number.”
Peter Davies continues: “Fast and reliable connections to the capital are vital to local businesses but the new service is also enabling passengers from London to enjoy easy access to Devon and Cornwall for business trips and weekend getaways which provides further benefits to the local economy.”