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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
New airline to secure London routes
Plymouth City Airport sign
The owners of Plymouth City Airport are starting the airline
A new airline is being set up in the hope of operating flights from the South West to Gatwick when British Airways (BA) pulls out of routes in the autumn.

The owners of Plymouth City Airport say they are in advanced talks with BA to ensure the region still has flights from Plymouth and Newquay.

Air Wales had previously expressed a keen interest in running the route, but plans for a new airline based at Plymouth have been announced.

Sutton Harbour Holdings, which owns Plymouth Airport, intends to set up Air Southwest in the hope of saving the London link.

Slots secured

Malcolm Naylor of Sutton Harbour Holdings, the former managing director of Brymon Airways, which used to operate the Gatwick route, said: "Air Southwest will be an airline based in Plymouth, creating jobs for the region, and offering a range of services for the region.

"Those slots will then be secured by us for the long-term benefit of the South West."

In a statement, BA said: "We are aware there are a number of parties interested in taking over the routes.

"For the moment, we are just pursuing discussions with Air Southwest."

Sutton Harbour Holdings says a final decision will be reached in a few weeks.

It will then set about acquiring a new fleet of planes for the airline, and be ready to take over from BA on 27 October.

BA plane
BA is stopping its South West flights in October
BA confirmed earlier in the month it would stop operating on the routes on 30 October.

Business leaders in Devon said the loss of the flights with Gatwick would lose the region millions of pounds in potential investment.

However, they now say they are relieved that something is being done to ensure they continue.

The Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, Tim Jones, said it was also good news that it is a local company planning to take over the link.

Sutton Harbour Holdings has also said the airline announcement will not affect its proposals to build a new airport for the South Hams to replace Plymouth and Exeter airports.

Deal secures airport's future
23 May 03  |  England
Air Wales cashes in
21 May 03  |  Devon
Air Wales to take over route
20 May 03  |  Devon
South West flights to end
19 May 03  |  Devon
Airport permitted to move road
06 May 03  |  Devon
Airport study gets under way
01 Apr 03  |  England
Argument over airport expansion
05 Mar 03  |  England

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