12 July 2009 – Oxford Mail
IT was take-off for Oxford Airport as the departure of the first charter flight in almost two decades saw happy holidaymakers set off to Jersey with smiles on their faces.
On Saturday, as the airport begin weekly flights to the Channel Island for the first time in 19 years, more than 40 onlookers gathered to watch the departure of a 50-seat Bombardier turbo-prop airliner from Kidlington.
Ahead of the 45-minute flight to Jersey, excited passengers spoke of their delight at being able to hop on a plane close to home and avoid long journeys and packed terminals at other airports.
Passenger Pete Thomas, 40, from Sandy Lane, Blackbird Leys, said: “I have always wanted to go to Jersey and when I saw these flights, I knew it was easier than going from Southampton or Gatwick.
“Check-in here isn’t like the big major airports – it’s a breeze.”
It took Paul Gourd, 47, his wife Elspeth, 48, and children Thomas, 14, and Lizzie, 10, nine minutes to get from their Oxford home to the airport.
He said: “Jersey is an ideal place for a family, because there’s lots of beaches and lots to do.
“But wherever they were going to fly to from Oxford, we probably would have gone, just because it’s so convenient. It’s great for Oxford to have holiday flights from here, we’re big fans of that and we hope other airlines follow suit.”
The route has been hailed as a soaraway success by the tour operator CI Travel Group.
The first four flights are already sold out and more than 75 per cent of all the seats are now booked for the flights, which operate every Saturday until September 12.
Roger Coppock, 72, from Kidlington, who was travelling with his wife Pauline, 70, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant.
“We’re just fed up of being messed about at big airports. They’re an all-day trip themselves nowadays.
“Flying from where we live is ideal, it’s all quite an adventure.”
Holidaymaker Ida Butler, 81, worked at the former RAF Kidlington base in the 1940s with her husband, Len, 88.
She said: “It feels peculiar to be back but they’ve really built it up here.
“We’re very excited to be taking off from Oxford. We saw an advert for the flights when we were out shopping and booked it straight away.”
The airport’s marketing manager James Dillon Godfray, said: “It’s a great day for the airport. Check-in went smoothly and all the passengers turned up on time.
“It’s the first time we have done this in almost 20 years – and by next week we expect to be experts.”