Alderney flight chaos provokes ultimatum

ALDERNEY’S politicians are issuing ministers in Guernsey with an ultimatum over the ‘disgraceful’ state of their island’s air links.

Alderney Airport

Yesterday morning one of the remaining three operational Trislanders was undergoing scheduled maintenance and both of the others went ‘tech’. Aurigny had to charter an aircraft to fly an engineer to Alderney to fix one.

The delays and cancellations meant medical appointments were missed and passengers were stranded in Southampton for up to eight and a half hours.

Francis Simonet, chairman of the Policy and Finance Committee, said the politicians were prepared to take the matter up with the Ministry of Justice if the situation did not improve.

Mr Simonet said: ‘People have been left stranded, yet again. Several Alderney patients have been denied treatment due to Aurigny’s obvious inability to provide the most basic service. It is pointless to raise this any more with the airline – we will be taking it up with the chief minister and other members of the Policy Council in Guernsey to resolve these problems with Aurigny.'

Comments for: "Alderney flight chaos provokes ultimatum"

DM

It's got a bit silly now. Endless delays with the Dornier that was originally to have been here six months ago coupled to Britten Norman's corporate sulk leave us here stuck like piggy in the middle. I'm sure it should all have been different but it isn't and the island is suffering for it.

SoA are right to now be shouting from the rooftops.

No doubt the Trislander- Trio will pop up and tell us that their way was the only way but given that BN are reported to be doing nothing to help the situation I rather doubt we'd want to be flying around in the only four Trislanders left in existence in a few years to come, they'd have us over a barrel. There must be a reason why no one else has wanted to buy a new one in the last 40 years?

SS

Reap what you sow. Maybe you should have been a bit more grateful toward Blueislands.

muddler

Hang on - isn't this the same Alderney that a few months ago were moaning about how terrible it was that they were going to lose their beloved 'Joey' and his mates and how awful the new Dornier was going to be????

DM

Your statement assumes a majority whereas in reality it was a few retirees with a bit of spare time and holiday home owners interested in owning a share of the air service (free flights for shareholders anyone?)

Alvin

Blame Aurigny and no one else.

Aurigny has been over zealous in their acquisition of their new and so very expensive flagship jet - leasing another jet because the new aircraft was not being delivered on time and dumping the price as low as 26 quid at times on the "life-line" Gatwick route this summer, despite having the monopoly on that route.

They have, however, dropped the ball on the real life-line route, which is the one to Alderney and which suffers from being served by decrepit, near-antique aircraft with airfares at extremely and obscenely high levels. Those aging flying machines are to be replaced by further old, second hand aircraft with no plan B when things go wrong as they are doing right now and, so it seems, no thoughts of leasing a replacement aircraft to cover for the late arrival of the "new" Dorniers.

Aurigny simply has its priorities wrong. More attention should be given to the Alderney route, with better frequencies at lower fares and operated by modern, comfortable airliners. The new jet, although a nice, new, shiny and more comfortable aircraft, was not an absolute essential necessity - the preservation of the Alderney route is.

DM

I believe that the owners of Gatwick were pricing out smaller aircraft (more seats, more shoppers) so maybe 122 seats instead of 72 was essential for the Gatwick service to remain viable? However, your points concerning Alderney are somewhat valid but as T&R in it's capacity as 'shareholder' on behalf of us all also did nothing for years about the ageing Trislander you cannot separate The States of Guernsey from a shared responsibility here.

Alvin

The main argument that Aurigny used to justify the purchase of the new and larger jet was that Flybe were pulling out of Gatwick and so they needed to increase capacity to meet the demand, ( as they could not get extra slots for increasing the number of flights every day.

There is no indication that Gatwick would bar smaller turbo-props from its airport - just that flying there would become more expensive.

As it is, Gatwick is still much cheaper to fly to than London City, an airport that Aurigny previously had stated that it would not be economical to fly to but which it then decided it would fly to. Of course, Flybe had various code-share agreements in place which Aurigny does not have and so the loss of Flybe passengers on the Gatwick route would not necessarily mean that those passengers would all switch over to Aurigny, and the introduction of the London City route as well as increased marketing by Flybe and then Blue Islands for the Southampton route has meant that passenger numbers on the Gatwick route have become rather disappointing.

So it will not come as a surprise to see that in January, and half of February, next year, the number of flights from Guernsey to Gatwick will only be four a day ! And yet the lowest fares on that route are £40 each way, whereas the cheapest flight from Guernsey to Alderney next year will be £43 !!

YG1234

Also amazes me that I can fly to Manchester on the latest seat sale for £78.00 for a 90 minute flight, but have to pay the same cost for a short hop to Alderney.

Okay its a smaller aircraft, but its a 15 minute flight !!

I love Alderney but is very expensive to fly too.

Neil Harvey

We in Alderney have been badly let down. The comments from Deputy Kuttelwasher are unhelpful, inaccurate and quote totally unreal statistics. Aurigny took a gamble that the Dorniers would arrive in time to avoid major and expensive services on 2 Trislanders - the gamble misfired and the people of Alderney are paying the price. Delayed and cancelled flights, medivac failures, failure to get essential drugs shipped in, postal service a shambles - how much more evidence is required?

The question is very simple - does Guernsey want a Bailiwick, with Alderney contributing all its taxes to the Guernsey exchequer or not?

DM

Mr Kuttelwasher did appear to be particularly clueless in his BBC interview though I was relieved to learn from him that they have exactly the same problems in Guernsey?

Oh my gache

Seems ironic considering Aurigny was set up to service Alderney.

Insider

Seems a slight over reaction.. it was one day without any flights. One day too many I grant you, but this route wouldn't be serviced by anyone else due to the huge losses it runs up.

Maybe it's time for Alderney to go it alone and look after their affairs without help from anyone else?

DM

Clearly you don't have a clue so what is the point of your comment? The delays and cancellations have been ongoing for weeks, we pay our fares and pay our taxes but you seem to regard it as an affront that we should also expect a service?

Only one destination

DM, I think Insider does have a clue. You live on a tiny island with 1500-odd residents and you expect an airline to provide frequent cheap flights. You are lucky to have an airport at all. I don't believe Aurigny planned for the planes to go 'tech'. Stop whining and get on with it. If you want frequent cheap flights go and live near Luton.

DM

I believe Luton is a major EasyJet hub and I recall some excitement over there on the big island when it was suggested that they might come and rescue you all from Aurigny's fare structure?

Whilst you may be sitting there stressing over how much you are 'subsidising' me it might be worth bearing in mind that a successful Alderney economy will have a direct result felt in St Peter Port too so I rather think you should be supporting our quest for reliability not taking the opportunity for pointless rhetoric?

Alvin

Only one destination...

With an alias like that, you could be working in the top management of Aurigny !

If Aurigny had shown the same commitment to the Alderney route as it has shown for the Gatwick route, things might well be very different.

If Aurigny had purchased a spanking new Dornier for the Alderney route and leased one whilst waiting for the new aircraft to arrive - as they did with the brand new jet that was purchased for the Gatwick route, Alderney might now be getting a much better service.

If Alderney residents did not see that the fares on the Guernsey - Alderney route were constantly higher than the Gatwick - Guernsey fares, they might not be so inclined to complain as much.

Alderney, like Sark, are part of the Guernsey tourism "product" and if those islands enjoy healthy a healthy tourism industry then that also benefits Guernsey. Those islands help to attract tourists to the Bailiwick as a whole. Cut them off and one is cutting down Guernsey's own tourism potential.

Lower fares and better air services do not benefit just the "1500-odd residents" of Alderney - it benefits the Bailiwick as a whole. ( In the 2013 census report the figure was actually 1903 - a drop of 17 % on 2001; not surprising seeing the way the island is being neglected by Guernsey ).

Maybe Aurigny did not plan for the planes to go "tech" - but they certainly did not show much urgency compared to the urgency they gave to the "new jet" project.

Alderney needs a reliable, reasonably priced air service linking it to Guernsey and Jersey - as well, if economically viable, the UK.

Insider

Thought only 5 flights had been cancelled for technical reasons since October 1st or is the Deputy telling porkies?

I was simply suggesting it as an option for Alderney. I'll continue to comment as I see fit. :)

no1native

Deputy Kuttlewascher must have drawn the short straw when it came to who was going to face the media on this one. No one from Aurigny came forward, surprise surprise so poor old Jan was made to look like a clueless numpty.... a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Mark Smith

Aurigny has established a management team led by Moulton, a venture capitalist. The business model that follows is to grow a regional airline which the States of Guernsey can sell in due course, thereby ridding itself of an unwelcome liability. The Aurigny service proposition does not fit well with the business model, hence the service is marginalised. The management will be incentivised to achieve a sale, it is not in their interest to service Alderney. The First Minister should sensor his colleagues who make uninformed comments on a sensitive matter that needs to be resolved. Aurigny was born to solve an Alderney transport matter, over time the Gatwick route has become the focus, understandably (and well documented), but this need not be to the detriment of Alderney.

Alvin

A very interesting and eye-opening post.

Chris

Alderney residents don't live in the real world. What other place with 1500 people gets a regular scheduled air service? The truth is the taxpayer is heavily subsidizing Alderney with any air service. If you want cheap flights, don't live in Alderney. And be grateful the States still want to run any service there.

If I were Mark Darby I would cut Southampton from Alderney and let them fly via Guernsey.

Alvin

Chris... and you live in the real world ?

Do you have the figures as to how much the air-service is being subsidized by the States of Guernsey ?

If you do, then share with us those figures - after all, you obviously do not know how many people are resident on Alderney. The figure for that is 1903 according to the last census report.

And do not taxpayers on Alderney contribute to the coffers of the Bailiwick as a whole ? But do they benefit from services which benefit purely the residents of Guernsey, such as the bus service, or Guernsey Airport for that matter. Note that in lieu of a route to Guernsey, Alderney could do equally as well, if not better, with a route to Jersey.

No. The fact of the matter is that Alderney has got the short end of the stick, is being neglected as a whole and, more specifically, by Aurigny who seem more interested in operating, most likely at a loss, a new jet on the Gatwick route and a new route to London City.

People should realize that Alderney has excellent potential as a tourist destination, and if well promoted and serviced can greatly enhance the tourism industry of Guernsey.

DM

What town of 63,000 people do you know of with an airport (recent expenditure £105m) and it's own airline (recent expenditure £30m). I've never been offered flights on Somerset Express from Taunton International?

GM

DM

What a ridiculous post. The last time I looked, Taunton was not surrounded by sea. In case you haven't noticed, it is not possible to drive or catch a train to Guernsey.

DM

Which is precisely my point GM, maybe the irony escaped you. Alderney is in the same position but we are being told we are 'lucky' to have an airport.

GM

DM

Yes the irony was lost on me.

I'm certainly not one who is saying that Alderney is lucky to have an airport. Its essential, but I doubt Alderney will ever see again the air links that it had previously. Connections to Guernsey are likely to be about all Alderney will get. I'm not saying that's right, but it seems likely.

no1native

Chris

I repeat a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Mark Darby will no doudt end up getting his way with all Alderney flights having to go through Guernsey if only to claw back some money to help cover the massive overspends that have been going on in Guernsey, from the new airport termimal, extension of the runway, new radar system... right through to the monumental cock up of the States of Guernsey paying 2 million plus to a couple of clever dicks, oh and how much are we, the tax payers still forking out on legal fees?

I have never expected cheap flights to and from Alderney, but surely a reliable service isn't too much to ask for?

Chris

If you had to go via Guernsey, there would likely be more flights and therefore better connections. Aurigny might actually break even on Alderney.

While some of what you say is correct, I don't see the relevance of the 2.6 million fraud? Are you saying that money was really meant for Alderney?

I support Mark, he has brought some real commercial reality to Aurigny.

To close, I shall give you Ridunians ( is that correct?) a thought. When the Trislanders are retired, maybe the States should gift them to the States of Alderney. Then let's see you run an airline. Must be good eh, free aircraft??

Alvin

Well Chris, I hope that Mr Darby is successful in turning Aurigny round from a loss-making airline to one that breaks even and maybe makes a profit whilst maintaining or improving essential services - such as the Alderney route.

Maybe you have inside information and are aware of the state of the airlines financial performance, ( which, like so many other things under States control, are kept secret ), and believe things are improving within the company, but for the rest of us, who do not have the benefit of such insight, we do not see such a rosy picture.

We see a rashly purchased and very expensive jet, on a route that has diminishing demand, due partly to the opening up of a third route to London. ( I am very much in favour of the London City route but believe that the jet was never essential, unlike new aircraft on the Alderney route, as demand for London could have been diverted from Gatwick to Stansted and LCY ), incomprehensible pricing policies as has been mentioned so many times on these forums, poor marketing, poor use of the Aurigny package holiday business through its subsidiary website, no apparent steps on code-sharing with an international carrier, ( very necessary to make the LCY route successful ) and so on.

Maybe Mr Darby needs more time to get these things sorted out. I hope he can, otherwise I see more service cuts in the future and greater losses for the company.

TAFF

Chris, so clever, and so mis-guided.

I live on Alderney and have a Guernsey passport. I pay taxes to Guernsey, and Social Security, and TRP, as does anyone resident in Guernsey. With equal taxation should come equal services, but that is not the case, in particular the service from Aurigny, which is owned by the government which happily takes all my taxes, but provides a very inferior flight service.

And boosting the Alderney economy with a better flight service will benefit both parties. Which is the daftest part of the whole business.

Saints

DM

That's an easy answer. How about Loganair, they service Shetland with a population of around 20,000 and Kirkwall with a population of around 8,500. There is also a link to Stronsay population less than 500.(Ok, I concede the beach is the runway from memory at Stronsay, but it does show what is possible)

I also saw the media interview with Dep. Jan Kuttelwasher and you would think he would check the facts before spouting the nonsense he came out with in public. It just made him look a little silly.

Common sense dictates you don't upset the only company able to provide support on your current fleet of three before you actually have in place a replacement aircraft. We are now being told that this current predicament is outside the control of Aurigny. So if they aren't in control, who is? It doesn't exactly fill one with confidence, and begs the question why weren't penalties included in the contract if the aircraft was late in being delivered, so another aircraft could be chartered? We still don't have a delivery date, despite being told that the first Dornier would be here in June.

At the present time Aurigny is trying to be a regional airline and also attempting to be a lifeline service between the islands, unfortunately it is failing at both. The powers that be need to get their collective acts together and once and for all sort out this sorry mess.

As an aside, why aren't Aurigny tapping into the 700,000 population which currently reside on the nearby Cotentin peninsular? There used to be a regular service in and out of Cherbourg, why was that link allowed to fail?

Gardener

I loved the Cherbourg link but surely this route stopped for the simple reason that not enough people used it.

PeterBernfeld

Not sure where to start with this. Part--a major part--of the problem stems from the lack of development of, and investment in, Alderney airport. It can only legally accommodate aircraft of a certain size and those aircraft are rather specialised which translates into expensive to buy and operate. Safety regulations also dictate which aircraft can and cannot be used. A Cessna Caravan would be an economical aircraft to operate but being single engine it is not possible to use it on any routes to and from Alderney. Aurigny can hardly be blamed for any of the above.

The Cherbourg route ceased because it was not commercially viable--simple as that. It was never a lifeline route so it had to stand on its own two feet-or should that be fly on its own two wings?Either way the demand was not there.

One might argue that in the past Aurigny should have developed a GCI-SOU route, using say a 30-40 seat aircraft and shuttled passengers to/from ACI using Trislanders but we are where we are and not where we'd like to be. I understand that there are no new Dorniers available until 2016 and self--evidently there is a shortage of 'pre-loved' examples on the market.

People here have wittered on about tourism but let's get real shall we? Exactly what is there on Alderney to attract visitors to the island and if they came where would they stay? The same is true for attracting businesses to the island. Don't forget that when it comes to attracting any form of industry Alderney is in direct competition with Guernsey. The same could be said about visitors as well. It is too simplistic to say that if there were more flights then visitors and businesses would flock to the island. The infrastructure has to be there in order to make the commercial risk of putting on extra flights viable. Aurigny cannot be blamed for that either.

It might be that this situation was to a degree 'engineered' in order to come up with a radical solution to Alderney's transport woes but frankly the whole thing resembles a slow train crash. It has a certain inevitability about it and could only have been prevented by an injection of cash at a much earlier date. Before somebody mentions the jet, it would not have been either possible or economically viable to increase the number of LGW rotations. It was essential to either purchase or lease a larger capacity aircraft for the LGW route. Contrary to popular belief in some quarters, airlines were not queuing up to fly to Guernsey and to attract them would have required some sort of subsidy, which would have had to be paid for one way or another. In the end, it would have come down to the taxpayers to stump up the necessary.

I have said this before but Alderney is lucky to have the links that it does. There might be a temporary hiatus in the service and I hope that the situation improves soon--but any idea that there will be an increase in the number of flights to/from Alderney is just wishful thinking.

Alvin

"Alderney is lucky to have the air-links it does" probably sums up the attitude of Aurigy and the States of Guernsey.

No. Alderney must have those air-links to survive and should not be feeling "lucky" to have them. No more than Guernsey should feel "lucky" that is has a large, newly re-developed airport, a bus-service, a larger, and about to be completely revamped harbour, free parking, hospitals, schools and colleges etc.

Aurigny has concentrated and over-commited on that large, new jet instead of looking forward and planning for replacements on the Alderney route. Maybe a new Dornier might not be deliverable until 2016, as they are produced in batches when RUAG get enough orders, but had Aurigny looked ahead a couple of years ago, or more, as they should have been doing, then the new aircraft could have been in place this Autumn. And then there are other options out there, such as refurbished Islanders, Twin Otters, Pilatus aircraft, Super King Airs or whatever. I believe a Dash 8-200 could easily operate from Alderney airport and with 37 seats could have been used not just on that route but others as well, ( such as LCY or maybe Guernsey-Alderney-Southampton, or Guernsey-Alderney-Cherbourg, - I doubt if Aurigny could have successfully operated a Guernsey-Southampton route in direct competition with Flybe and Blue Islands ).

Yes, we know that rotations can not be increased on the Gatwick route - not because it would not be economically viable but because Aurigny does not possess the extra slots - but instead of trying to increase capacity to meet demand which might have fallen anyway through the withdrawal of Flybe, ( as that airline has interline/code-share agreements ), they could have increased rotations to Stansted and start the LCY route. Then maybe they would not have had to slash prices to as low as 26 quid one way on the Gatwick route this summer, as they did, obviously to put bums on seats in order to justify the acquisition of the big white flying elephant.

Which brings us to tourism. No one is suggesting that Alderney has the potential for mass-market tourism as Majorca, Phuket or other island resorts around the world. But it most certainly does have substantial potential - I could write pages on that subject but suggest you look at the VisitAlderney.com website and I quote from that... "you will discover an oasis with an ancient and varied history, an abundance of flora and fauna, beautiful beaches, an enviable lifestyle with that unique, contagious phenomenon known as “the Alderney Feeling” "

Not only does Alderney have great potential as a stand-alone tourism destination, but also as an add-on to a holiday in the Bailiwick as a whole, so that any improvement to Alderney's tourism will also have a positive knock on effect to the main island as well.

And then there are the day-trips. Undertaken not just by visitors to Guernsey but also Guernsey residents as well. But who wants to do a day-trip when it costs over 80 quid per person just for the flights ?? If Aurigny were able to dump Gatwick flights to as low as 26 quid this summer, could they not have done day-returns to Alderney for under 50 quid ??

I do agree that holiday accommodation on Alderney is diminishing. But why ? Maybe part of the reason is the lack of accessibility or the over-pricing of the flights ? Its the old Catch 22 or “Chicken and the Egg” syndrome... which should come first : the flights or the hotels ?

No. There is no "luck" involved. The blame lies entirely on Aurigny's doorstep for neglecting essential services because of being transfixed on their dream of becoming a "real" airline jet-operator. Have a look at their website. It is geared mainly to people flying from Guernsey - not as a marketing tool for the Bailiwick as a whole. Have a look at their website Aurignybreaks.com - supposedly features holidays in the islands from the UK and inter-island breaks - but shows no flight availability for Alderney. Aurigny are reportedly satisfied with their 1/3 seat occupancy on their London City flights and come up with a host of excuses for not doing better - but they leased a 50 seat Fokker 50 from VLM and originally were planning to start with the Dornier or ATR 42. Next January : the number of Gatwick rotations is down to 4.

Sorry to say but Aurigny is not going anywhere but further into the red and the essential air-links that Alderney is "lucky" to have will be at further risk.

GuernseyFrench

When I first flew Aurigny in early 90s, it was a CI airline, linking the islands together while 'mainland carriers' would have Guernsey and Jersey as provincial destinations. It was like taking the local bus that made the archipelago into a single bigger island. They knew their purpose and they excelled at it. This role has been taken on by Blue Island now and it's only when Aurigny stopped Guernsey-Jersey flights that it was clear to me that Aurigny had abandoned their original purpose and it explained the otherwise confusing transformations. If Blue island is what Aurigny was, then surely Guernsey-Alderney and even Guernsey-Dinard routes make more sense if run by them? And if Guernsey feels that it needs to subsidise those unprofitable routes, it still can !?

Gardener

I'm not sure it was taking on UK routes which stopped Aurigny being a local inter-insular bus service. Rather it was the advent of Blue Islands and the spreading of limited traffic far too thinly. While I'm sure Aurigny would welcome Blue Islands taking the Alderney route off their hands that would be fraught with risk. As a privately owned airline they could pull out at any time as they did with Alderney/Jersey after pushing Aurigny off the route. While that is technically a risk now with Guernsey/Jersey its a far lower one as the way its currently operated it can be profitable and if Blue Islands did walk away Aurigny could quickly lease suitable planes to replace them. Far harder on the restricted Alderney route.

arjay

arjay,

The situation about Aurigny air links appears to be serious indeed.

Yet Deputy Kuttelwasher assures us that there is no problem at all.

Who are we to believe?