BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 21:56 GMT
Question mark remains over London flights
A Dash 8 at Plymouth City Airport
The Dash 8s could be transferred to another airline
British Airways has said it expects to pull out of its operation of flights to and from the South West.

BA said it is hoping another operator will take over the service to Plymouth and Newquay.

But the company said it could not guarantee that the landing slots at Gatwick from Plymouth will be part of the deal which is being negotiated.

There had been speculation that CitiExpress flights from Plymouth and Newquay would be lost in a shake-up of regional services announced by BA on Tuesday.

'Fairly confident'

But BA has said it will be keeping the services, at least until 2005 when it hoped to transfer them to another airline as BA moves to an all-jet fleet.

A spokeswoman said: "We are fairly confident we shall find someone to take them, but if we cannot transfer the flights to someone else, we will continue them."

The jets in the BA fleet cannot land at Plymouth because the runway is too short.

Business leaders in the South West have expressed relief at the decision.

There had been fears that with poor communication, rail and road links, any threat to air links between London and the South West would have had repercussions for the local economy.

It is important for this region of Europe to have access to other regions of Europe

Regional Development Agency

A spokesman for the Regional Development Agency, said: "We are delighted that BA has seen the value in retaining the Plymouth and Newquay flights to Gatwick and have recognised the importance of this route to businesses.

"It is important for this region of Europe to have access to other regions of Europe."

Road plans

Sutton Harbour Holdings, which owns and runs Plymouth Airport, said BA's announcement of jet fleets fuelled its argument that the South West needed a new, larger airport.

It has put forward plans for a new airport, to take the place of Exeter and Plymouth, on a site in the South Hams area, east of Plymouth.

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, planned changes to the A303 - one of the main routes between the South West and London - were debated.

David Laws, Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovil, secured the time to discuss the government's recent announcement about dualling part of the route.

Improvements needed

Speaking in the Commons he called on the Transport Minister David Jamieson to spell out a detailed programme for dualling the road in Somerset.

Mr Laws backed the government's plan to make the A358 near Taunton a dual carriageway from the Southfields roundabout to the M5, in preference to upgrading the A303 over the Blackdown Hills.

But he acknowledged that improvements were needed to the Blackdowns route.

The minister was unable to give specific dates for work to start on improving the A303 but he said he hoped to make announcements in the first half of 2003.


Click here to go to BBC Cornwall

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

11 Dec 02 | England
10 Dec 02 | England
19 Nov 02 | England
14 Nov 02 | England
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes