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New technology 'could help ATRs land in poor visibility'

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FINDING a way to overcome disruption from fog and bad weather disruption should be a priority for Aurigny, its chairman said yesterday, as the airport was effectively locked down by the weather for a third time in a week.

Andrew Haining told the Chamber of Commerce's monthly lunch he believed that there was a potential answer to the issue available to the airline.

And he said that proper assessment should be done on the extent of the issues caused by and the financial cost of fog to businesses to help to build the business case for enhanced onboard technology.

Mr Haining said that new technology was now available for ATR aircraft which could significantly enhance the ability for the planes to land in poor weather, reducing weather delays for the airline by 'perhaps more than 50%'.

Such investment could be made as and when the Aurigny fleet was replaced and he said the overall economic benefits for the island would quickly repay the capital outlay.

Mr Haining, who took over at Aurigny nearly a year ago, said the airline estimated its annual cost of weather disruption at between £500,000 and £1m. Carrying out an exercise on the cost of disruption for the business community, including tourism, could help justify the cost to government, he added.

'This is a really important step forward and, in my view, Guernsey could be on the front foot too.

'I can't see British Airways and EasyJet putting this kit into Jersey. Jersey airport is closed today – and wouldn't it be great if all our flights got in today?'

Deputy Jan Kuttelwascher, who favours a runway extension, asked Mr Haining from the audience if the technology also required a longer runway – a move which Aurigny is not lobbying for – to have significant impact, which the chairman denied.

'I don't think we can just sit back and say we cannot do anything,' Mr Haining replied.

'In my view, it's like 2G versus 3G and 4G. Business and leisure now require a degree of certainty, that for geographical and meteorological reasons this island cannot produce, and if we don't try, and look at the options, I don't think we will have done ourselves any favours.'

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