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Council seeks future for doomed airport

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Plymouth City Council is trying to secure a future for its local airport, after its owner decided to close it by December.

Sutton Harbour Group, which owns the site on a 150-year lease from the council, said the airport had “been lossmaking for a lengthy period of time and the board has concluded there is no realistic prospect of trade improving in the near future”.

Under the terms of the lease, the council must agree the airport is unviable before it can close and an alternative use found for the site. It has appointed an external auditor to assess its viability.

A council spokesman said: “While we are disappointed, we understand the commercial decision as the company has been operating in a difficult and challenging market as seen generally across the regional aviation industry.

“We have been working closely with Sutton Harbour to try and secure a sustainable future for the airport. This has included talking to different potential airport operators, 16 commercial airlines as well as the Civil Aviation Authority to examine all possible models for the future running of the airport.”

The loss of Plymouth would leave a gap in airport coverage between Exeter and Newquay hampering the city’s ability to attract investment.

A study due to report in June has been commissioned by the council and the local Chamber of Commerce into the airport’s future, and the possibility of a faster and more frequent train link to London.

Plymouth lost its air link to the capital last year. It currently has flights to UK regions, Ireland, the Channel Islands and Grenoble in France.

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