BRIGHTON City Airways announced today (Thursday, May 2) it has been forced to temporarily suspend its flights from Shoreham to Paris.
The recently-launched service will be suspended from Tuesday, May 7, due to ongoing French customs and immigration delays in setting up a point of entry at Paris Pontoise airport.
Director Jonathan Candelon said: “Just two weeks before we launched the airline in March, we were advised by the French authorities that there would be a short delay of a couple of weeks before a customs and immigration port of entry was in place at Paris Pontoise.
“However, eight weeks later, this intolerable issue remains in place and with no firm date set for a resolution.
“In the meantime, we have been obliged to land in another French airport – usually Rouen, or Le Touquet – en route to Pontoise and the authorities have very rarely come aboard to check passports.
“This has meant having two take offs and climbs instead of one, longer flight times, extra airport fees and extra maintenance costs, all of which add up to a single flight to Paris costing us 60 per cent more than a direct flight would cost, never mind the inconvenience for passengers.
“We are truly sad to suspend the flights, not least because our ticket sales are over target and the demand for this airline is proven to be there, but we are forced to postpone flight until the issue is solved at Paris Pontoise.
“Brighton City Airways will operate the return flights to Paris until May 6 to allow passengers to return from their bank holiday breaks in Paris, but will suspend the service after the return flight to Shoreham lands on Monday evening.
“We want to thank everyone for the tremendous support they have given us –Brighton (Shoreham) Airport, Van Air Europe, Aeroports de Paris, Handling Partners, KA Exec Handling and our enthusiastic passengers.
“We will of course be giving a full refund to passengers expecting to fly from May 7 onwards and we want to apologise to them for the inconvenience. It is a huge disappointment for all of us.”
Ric Belfield, airport general manager, said: “Brighton Shoreham Airport are deeply disappointed that the French customs issues at Paris Pontoise show no signs of being resolved and as a result Brighton City Airways have reluctantly had to take the difficult decision to suspend the operation until the matter is resolved.
“There are many people who have worked hard and made considerable investment both in time and money to bring the scheduled service into being. It is very hard to come to terms with the fact that the route which has proved extremely popular with customers should be frustrated by matters outside Brighton City Airways control. Brighton Shoreham Airport look forward to the French customs issue being resolved and the resumption of this valuable service.”
An official statement from the Aéroports de Paris Group said: “The Aéroports de Paris Group regrets this decision but is aware that without this Schengen entry-point agreement,
“Pontoise and Toussus operators are losing money. Aéroports de Paris is continuing to work on reopening these two airfields up to non-Schengen traffic as soon as possible in order to maintain the promising scheduled services between Pontoise and Brighton.”