A petition has been launched calling for the development of an airport for commercial use on the Isle of Wight that could provide a real alternative to ferry travel.
The idea has already been dismissed by one airport owner as unviable as it would cost “billions”.
But petitioner Thomas Munro, 39, hasn’t been put off as he has dreamed of being the man who brought commercial air travel to the Island for years.
He grew up in Cowes, lives in London and wonders why people can fly between Jersey and major cities like London, Liverpool and Dublin for around £60 return but cannot do the same from the Isle of Wight.
He believes Bembridge’s existing airport would be the ideal place to develop his dream hub, serviced by low-cost carriers FlyBe, Logan Air and possibly larger airlines such as Ryanair and Easy Jet.
He said: “An airport would bring jobs in construction first, then I’d imagine hotels would want to be near it, restaurants, car hire places, shops, and investment.
“This would give Islanders another option to get off the Island as well, when the ferries aren’t running.
“The visitor figures for Jersey Airport last year were 1.6 million, and they don’t even have many events.
“Imagine what we could pull in for things like the Isle of Wight Festival or Cowes Week where people come from all over the country and the world.
“People say ‘it’s pie in the sky, it won’t happen, it’s been tried before and it failed’. Well the only reason it failed before is because our airports haven’t been developed!”
The owner of Sandown Airport, Danial Subhani, rubbished the petition and the idea of developing a “proper” airport.
He said: “There’s around 130,000 people on the Isle of Wight, if all of them went on holiday once a year it wouldn’t pay for the airport to be built.
“We are talkings billions. To take in the likes of Easy Jet and Ryan Air, we are talking big money. [For FlyBe] it would be the same, the regulations are massive.
“They’d never get it passed planning. They did a viability study of extending Sandown’s runway in 2012, and that was scrapped as joke.
“There used to be a guy before me who did commercial flights in light aircraft between Sandown and London City, that failed miserably as well due to costs.”
Mr Subhani is considering an air taxi service whereby people can charter a light aircraft to destinations like Manchester for around £200 each.
“A proper commercial airport on the Isle of Wight will never be viable,” continued Mr Subhani. “It just doesn’t cost in, do the simple maths. The runway alone to take something like that could be £10 million or £20 million. And where would it go? Bembridge and Sandown aren’t long enough.”
Bembridge Airport has been contacted for comment.
You can sign the petition here: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/231496