The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company is gearing up to bring Christmas to Scilly as staff prepare to manage over 1,000 passengers, tonnes of freight and thousands of items of mail over the festive period.
Located 28 miles South West of Cornwall, the only way for passengers to reach the islands this Christmas is with a 20-minute flight on Skybus, the Steamship Company’s airline based at Land’s End Airport.
Meanwhile, the company’s freight ship, the Gry Maritha, continues to make its thrice-weekly crossing in all weathers, bringing vital supplies to the island community.
The Steamship Company has been helping to bring Christmas to Scilly for 100 years and marked its centenary this year, having been founded in 1920.
For the last nine months company staff have worked tirelessly to keep the islands supplied through two lockdowns, and during the busy summer when travel restrictions were lifted and the islands saw an influx of visitors.
Over the Christmas period and during December, the Steamship Company carries approximately 18 tonnes of mail and 658 tonnes of freight are shipped on the Gry.
Company Chief Executive Stuart Reid said: “Every year our employees work hard behind the scenes to create a magical Christmas on Scilly so loved ones can be together.
“I think 2020 has shown us the importance of compassion, caring and looking out for others. So even during this exceptional year we are doing everything in our power to bring together all the ingredients for a safe family Christmas on the islands.”
Tight Covid-secure measures means the islands are among just a handful of places, including Cornwall, placed in Tier 1 of national coronavirus restrictions which come into force on December 2.
With people in Tiers 1 and 2 permitted to take holidays within England (apart from visiting Tier 3 areas), and the Government allowing Christmas ‘bubbles’ for a short time, Skybus is expecting to fly over 1,000 passengers during the Christmas break.
And it’s not just people that need moving. Increased online shopping because of coronavirus means Skybus has already flown over 23 tonnes of mail in November, compared to 18.5 tonnes for the whole of November last year.
Flowers make up a large proportion of air freight and are an important part of the Scilly economy. The Gulf Stream flowing around the islands creates a sub-tropical climate which means scented blooms are grown year-round and sent first class all over the UK.
And last month, Skybus carried two very unusual passengers when two seal pups were flown to the mainland for veterinary treatment.