The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is strengthening its senior management team as it prepares for the launch of its new helicopter service and works towards replacing its Scillonian III passenger ferry.

The business has appointed Stuart Reid as acting Chief Operations Officer to manage day-to-day operations, and is planning a senior appointment to its marine business. Further recruitment to the Board is underway and Chairman Andrew May will be increasing his hands-on role.

Stuart joined the group as Chief Financial Officer almost five years ago. He has been a main Board director since June 2015 and has played a key role preparing for the launch of the group’s new Island Helicopters service from Land’s End Airport on May 21.

His appointment coincides with Mark Howarth finishing in his role of interim managing director on May 13, a position he has held for eight months; Mark will remain on the Board.

Steamship Group Chairman Andrew May said: “The group is at an exciting time in its development and we will continue to evolve our management team. We are delighted to be promoting Stuart to a new role. It is a reflection of the contribution he makes to the business and his hard work preparing for the launch of Island Helicopters in just a few weeks’ time, which has been a fantastic team effort by everyone involved.

“Thanks also to Mark who has done a tremendous job as interim Managing Director. This was a position originally planned for just six months so we are grateful for the extra time he has given us and for his unerring focus on customer service and our wider stakeholder relationships.

“We are looking at further strengthening our management team, especially on the marine side, and plan further appointments to the Board as we look to the future, including our plans for a new Scillonian passenger ship.”

Stuart Reid said: “I’m delighted to be taking on this new position and will be working very closely with Andrew in his enhanced role, the Board and other colleagues as we integrate Island Helicopters and plan for future investment in the transport network.”

The Steamship Group announced in February this year that it would be launching a new helicopter service from Land’s End Airport to the Isles of Scilly using a state-of-the-art AW169 helicopter. The all-weather aircraft can carry 10 passengers and during recent trials proved its resilience when it was able to operate from Land’s End in adverse weather.

Stuart added: “As well as offering passengers more choice, Island Helicopters will make the transport network more resilient by supplementing the fixed wing and ferry service, which is good news for customers and for the islands’ economy.”

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group was founded by islanders almost 100 years ago to provide lifeline passenger and freight services to the Isles of Scilly. It operates eight fixed wing Skybus aircraft from Land’s End, Exeter and Newquay airports, and the seasonal Scillonian III passenger ferry from Penzance.

The £17-million turnover business employs 228 staff and returns more than £1.1 million a year to local communities through subsidised travel, freight, sponsorships and grants.