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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
South West flights to end
Dash plane
No replacement operator has been found for the routes
British Airways is to withdraw its loss-making services between Gatwick and Plymouth and Newquay from this autumn.

Speculation has been mounting over the last few days that British Airways would announce it was pulling out of the far South West within a few months.

Until now it has said the change could take as long as three years.

But now the airline has confirmed that the routes will be axed on 30 October.

A replacement operator has not yet been found to take over the flights.

We regard this as being hugely bad news
Charles Howeson, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce

Charles Howeson, chairman of the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said the decision would be devastating for the local economy.

He said: "We now have an extraordinarily small amount of time left to find another operator to come out of Plymouth and Newquay, or to patch together some other solution.

"As far as the business community in Plymouth is concerned, we regard this as being hugely bad news."

David Evans, managing director of British Airways City Express, said the airline had been left with little choice.

"Frankly the route has been losing money for some time.

"The airline industry is probably facing its most difficult period ever.

"Bankruptcies in the US, difficulties in Europe, the impact of Sars in the Far East, war in the Middle East, I could go on.

"It's probably just about the most challenging time for the airline business that I can remember, after some 30 years in the business.

"Sadly the routes from Plymouth and Newquay have not been making money for some time, and we have had to take this very difficult decision to withdraw them."




WATCH AND LISTEN
David Evans
"It's probably just about the most challenging time for the airline business that I can remember"



SEE ALSO:
Flights to South West at risk
16 May 03  |  Devon
Firm 'to swoop on BA planes'
10 Mar 03  |  England
Airline considers reopening route
18 Dec 02  |  England


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