The campaign to reopen Plymouth Airport has gained more momentum after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) invited tenders for a new five- year Royal Navy helicopter support contract. Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) had been based at Plymouth Airport for sixteen years and was forced to relocate to Newquay in 2011 when Plymouth closed. Since then, FOST has grown in size, and now includes support for the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, and also for Maritime Counter Terrorism.
The new five-year contract will be awarded in 2023 with a start by March 2024, and could potentially be extended for up to ten years. Day-to-day operational activity remains centred around the Plymouth area as the FOST teams are based at Devonport. This requires frequent transits to and from Newquay with increased fuel and maintenance costs.
“The optimal base for this helicopter support contract therefore is Plymouth and Plymouth Airport is now being looked at by potential bidders,” said a statement from the group FlyPlymouth, which aims to reopen the airfield.