Exclusive: Red Arrows shun Airborne 2012

The Red Arrows will not be appearing at this year’s Airbourne after shunning the town in favour of a display over Red Square.

Airbourne takes place between August 9 and August 12, and organisers will again be hoping to attract thousands of visitors to Eastbourne to cash in on the annual aerial extravaganza.

However, unlike in previous years, the iconic RAF display team – so often the main attraction – will not be among those planes taking part.

The Red Arrows have instead decided to take part in a two-day event in Russia, meaning there is no room for Eastbourne on the squadron’s jam-packed schedule.

And, to make matters worse, Eastbourne’s near neighbour Hastings HAS managed to secure a date with the Red Arrows.

The team will head to 1066 Country on July 22 – just three weeks before Airbourne – as part of the town’s Olympic Torch party planned for when the flame stays overnight.

The hugely popular team will also head to Eastbourne’s main rivals for the title of the UK’s best air festival, with appearances already booked in at the Jersey International Air Display on September 13 and at the Bournemouth Air Festival on both August 30 and 31.

Airbourne is marketed with a strong emphasis on the Red Arrows’ annual appearance and, as of yesterday, the event’s official website still carried a photo of the team as the main image on its front page, despite the snub having already been announced.

In fact, the only mention of the Red Arrows on the show website (www.eastbourneairshow.com) said, “2011 saw the iconic Red Arrows leading a packed programme featuring the best of the RAF and international display teams across the eight miles of seafront and over national beauty spot Beachy Head.

“We hope to see you again in 2012.”

A council spokesman said he believed Airborne would still be a major draw for tourists and that there would be enough going on over the course of the three days to still offer enough to make it worthwhile people coming.

Councillor Neil Stanley, head of tourism, said, “We are of course sad not to see the Red Arrows this year, but understand their commitments overseas cannot always work in our favour. Not all airshows receive the Red Arrows every year, and we are very lucky to have welcomed them most years and look forward to their return in the future.”

However, the fear locally is very much that without the event’s steller attraction, visitor numbers may drop and the town could even lost out to Hastings as people look to tie in seeing the display and getting into the Olympic spirit of things ahead of the forthcoming London Games.

What do you think of the news? Are you worried Airborne may struggle with the major attraction? Leave your comments below or email us at eastbourne.herald@jpress.co.uk.