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Petition calls for cheaper flights

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A PETITION calling for cheaper flights to and from Guernsey has gained more than 2,900 signatures.

University student Ryan Sullivan has started a petition calling for cheaper flights to and from Guernsey which has already gained more than 1,200 signatures. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 20718724)

Started by local resident and university student Ryan Sullivan, it says it is time for people to make their thoughts clear to the States about the ‘extortionate’ prices islanders are forced to pay to leave.

In response, States Trading Assets, which has political responsibility for Aurigny, has stressed that the airline has since 2014 consistently offered more than two-thirds of its fares on the Gatwick route at £69.50 or less – this figure excludes UK air passenger duty of £13.

In the petition, Mr Sullivan said he struggles to find one-way tickets for less than £79.99, with prices tending to be around £129.99 and as high as £199.99.

‘If Aurigny needs to charge customers that much yet is still in deficit every year then I believe their business model is flawed and requires reconsideration,’ the petition states.

He highlights the disparity with Jersey flight offers, where British Airways and its competitors advertise flights to Gatwick from £35 each way.

‘By having such large, well-known airlines with regular routes to the island, Jersey also benefits from advertising on their websites. Not only this, but you are able to book hotels and view tourist information. Guernsey does not have this, giving Jersey’s tourist industry a large head-start.’

Jersey attracted eight times more visitors in 2017, the petition states.

‘I believe we deserve reasons as to why airfares are so high, why we are not welcoming competition from other airlines and why the runway has not been extended. We deserve clear information on the strategy that will be implemented to ensure reasonably priced travel to and from the island for both residents and visitors.’

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States Trading Assets’ Alastair Ford said that a strategic review of Aurigny last year includes a call for the airline to break even.

‘The review recognised that one of the significant challenges facing the airline’s existing business model was the current obligation it has to maintain essential air services to Alderney, which currently loses in excess of £3m. per annum.

‘As a result, it recommended that alternative arrangements should be made for their future operation under a public service agreement, which will deliver a substantial improvement in Aurigny’s overall financial performance.

‘While an understandable point of reference, comparisons with fares available from the UK to Jersey ignore the significantly greater economies of scale that are available to airlines operating in the much larger market place that Jersey has to offer,’ he said.

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‘Nevertheless, monitoring by the STSB has shown that since 2014 Aurigny has consistently offered over two-thirds of its fares on the Gatwick route at £69.50 or less.

‘That includes all airport charges, but excludes the UK Government Air Passenger Duty.’

Aurigny had announced a new flexible fare structure, including hold baggage charges for the first time, would be launched on Tuesday 19 December, but that has yet to come in.

‘Its aim is to ensure that more lower fares are available that will generate up to 30,000 extra single passenger journeys for the airline each year, and could bring in up to 7,500 additional inbound visitors to the island.’

Tickets through its new partnership with easyJet, announced in September, were expected to go on sale by the end of last year but that has also yet to go live.

n The petition is available at https://www.change.org/p/states-of-guernsey-cheaper-flights-to-from-guernsey-channel-islands

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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