Starspeed battles “Terrible” TripAdvisor rating on Isles of Scilly route

Starspeed battles “Terrible” TripAdvisor rating on Isles of Scilly route

5-Jul-2023 Source:

British operator Starspeed continues to experience an uphill battle in its running of the UK scheduled service between Penzance Heliport and the Isles of Scilly. This service takes passengers to Tresco and St Mary’s six days a week throughout the year, offering a 15-minute flight to the islands from a purpose-built heliport on the outskirts of Penzance, close to the south-west tip of the English mainland. Low-level coverage is provided through the winter months and a high-rotation schedule in the summer in line with the demand from tourists.  The islands benefit from one of the best weather record in the country, together with sandy beaches and aquamarine seas.

Starspeed is contracted by Penzance Helicopters Ltd (under whose title passengers fly), and has been the operator since Monday 7th November 2022.

Ultimately, the operator’s plans were built around two 2007-build Sikorsky S76C++ aircraft. Both arrived in the UK from Nigeria, where they had been flown for offshore rig support.  One arrived with 6300 hours on the airframe, the second with 9300.

The first of these G-PNZE arrived on 11th November 2022, and was put in service on 10th December 2022. On 22nd April it experienced a technical issue and was flown the following day to its maintenance base – not reappearing until 3rd July, over ten weeks later at the height of the season.

The second S76C++ G-IOSH arrived in the UK on 9th June this year and has not yet been put into service.

The absence of any S76s at the time of year which requires two aircraft have led to many different aircraft covering from the Starspeed fleet. These have included a Bell 429 and two Airbus H145s which took an week-long pause in the UK en route from their off-season maintenance in Italy to Iceland where they joined the explorer cruise ship Ultramarine in recent days as it cruised past from Svalbard to Greenland.

The backlash from Isles of Scilly passengers has been high, particularly as they chose to pay a premium price (over the fixed wing and boat options) and they expect a premium service. Customers have taken to venting their frustrations publicly on the ratings website TripAdvisor where the overall score is clearly weighed down by 46 of 86 respondents scoring it as “Terrible”Some customers have reached out to as well.  We have had sight of various emails from Starspeed in which they refer to “genuinely unforeseeable” situations, and “a technical fault that took far longer than expected to fix”, and it is clear that Starspeed have put in a big effort to communicate with passengers as much as they can, both via direct email and on social media.

We trust that Starspeed can sort this situation in a timely fashion and that the second S76C++ will be put into service soon.  We look forward to this scheduled helicopter service restoring its reputation – particularly given that it can be traced back to 1st May 1964 with BEA Helicopters operating a Sikorsky S61.  Starspeed is part of the Luxaviation group.

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