Health Secretary Matt Hancock thanked employees at Land’s End Airport this morning (Monday, May 24th) for their dedication in maintaining the lifeline link to Scilly throughout the Covid pandemic.
Mr Hancock was travelling on an official visit to St Mary’s, but took the time to stop and talk to employees.
He said: “The last year has been incredibly challenging for so many, but during this time we have also seen some of the best of what makes us proud to be British.
“I want to thank the Skybus team for their dedication to ensuring the vital link between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland remained open, meaning essential items could continue be delivered.
“The crew made personal sacrifices to ensure this could be done in a COVID-19 secure way to protect their communities and loved ones.”
Mr Hancock was given a tour of the airport by Chief Executive Stuart Reid, Chairman Ian Howard and Airport Manager Chris Pearson.
He was shown an Islander aircraft, which is used by the NHS for urgent medical evacuations from the Isles of Scilly to the mainland – another lifeline link for the islands. There have been three NHS evacuations so far in 2021.
Chris Pearson said: “Land’s End Airport and Skybus have been delivering for Scilly since 1984, but never has it been so important to the island community as it has in the past year.
“Without the dedication of our employees, the islands would have been cut off from the mainland throughout Covid. We kept going through thick and thin, and it wasn’t always to our advantage.
“We’ve continued to transport post, freight, medical equipment, blood samples, vaccines, key workers, medical evacuations and more and we are delighted to receive the recognition the company deserves at such an important time.”
To comply with strict Covid regulations the company had to introduce measures including bubbling pilots and engineers, splitting teams in air traffic control, and rescheduling staff working patterns.
The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has transported hundreds of vaccine doses to the islands via Skybus.
The company’s dedicated freight ship Gry Maritha has continued its thrice weekly journeys to Scilly throughout the pandemic, carrying everything the islands need, from fuel to machinery, food to building supplies.
During lockdown, the crew could not leave the ship and stayed on board for the entirety of its two-week rotation in order to keep the lifeline link for Scilly.
In August 2020 the company impressed the Health and Safety Executive on its visit to Land’s End Airport, receiving compliments on the Covid precautions it had put in place.