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Until recently, Guernsey had two main air carriers – the States of Guernsey-run airline Aurigny (flying to the UK, including Gatwick) and FlyBe franchise operator Blue Islands (also flying to the mainland, including London City). In comparison, Jersey is served by major operators such as British Airways and Easyjet. James Ede-Golightly, a committee member of the IoD in Guernsey, says: “In 2018, we were seeing a lot of frustration amongst our members about high fares, poor connections and a lack of choice. It was deterring business investment on Guernsey and proving to be a difficult place to reach for clients and prospective employees.” The IoD identified air infrastructure as well as the lack of airlines as a major headwind. “If you look at the runway

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lengths of all UK airports with over half a million passengers a year, Guernsey has the shortest,” Ede-Golightly states. “The challenges of operating from Guernsey have contributed to the loss of major airlines over the last 20 years as they moved to larger aircraft. Moreover, in recent years a relatively restrictive closed skies licensing regime also limited the attraction of Guernsey to new operators and pressure on incumbent operators to offer competitive fares. Something had to change.”

OPEN SKIES Last July, the States of Guernsey deregulated the industry, with all routes except the lifeline routes to Alderney and Gatwick being exempt from the need to hold a local air transport licence. Both Aurigny and Blue Islands expressed

concerns that ‘unfettered’ competition in ‘sub-scale markets’ would lead to less choice of routes and frequency of yearround services. “One of the risks of open skies is that operators can cherry-pick the more profitable services and schedules, and if a licence is not dependent on a minimum service level, there is a potential loss of connectivity during off-peak times or slower, loss-making travel months, which business relies on,” says Rob Veron, Chief Executive of Blue Islands. “We believe there is a role for an authority to manage the sustainability of air and sea travel to and from the islands.” Since open skies, there have been eight new routes added, including Blue Island flights to Southend, Logan Air flights to Edinburgh and a new FlyBe route to

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Infrastructure

Profile for BL Magazine

BL Magazine Issue 64 September/October 2019  

Why is cannabis making waves in the investment community? How can businesses build good relationships with journalists? And why should compa...

BL Magazine Issue 64 September/October 2019  

Why is cannabis making waves in the investment community? How can businesses build good relationships with journalists? And why should compa...