Page last updated at 08:14 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Airport transfer date is deferred

Newquay Airport
The aim is to increase passenger numbers to one million a year

The date for airfield and air traffic operations at Newquay Airport in Cornwall to switch from military to civilian management has been deferred.

Cornwall County Council was due to take over from RAF St Mawgan on 1 December.

But the transfer has been put on hold to allow for more time to secure a full civilian operating licence.

The council said work was continuing on site to ensure certification was granted and a new transfer date would be announced shortly.

'Arduous process'

The airport, which has about 400,000 passengers a year, costs the council about 1m a year to run.

It is negotiating with the Ministry of Defence to buy the adjacent St Mawgan site because RAF operations there are due to cease.

This is part of a planned expansion to double the number of passengers and make the airport profitable.

Aviation expert Chris Yates of Jane's Airport Review said he was not surprised by the delay because the handover was on a tight schedule and there were tough safety criteria for civilian airports.

He told BBC News: "Getting certification is a long and often arduous process.

"The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is not noted for fast-tracking anything whatsoever. Those rules and regulations are there to keep you and I safe.

"I have no doubt Newquay will get its operator's licence, but with all due consideration for safety."

The Ministry of Defence said in a statement: "The MoD is currently in discussion with Cornwall County Council regarding the future of the airfield.

"We cannot comment further."

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