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Upgrading airline fleet ‘could cut fog delays’

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FOG delays could be halved if Aurigny were to invest in new aircraft, the airline has said.

The two ATR 72s owned by Aurigny are more than nine years old, while a leased one is not much newer. The leased ATR 42, G-HUET, is 18 years old. The airline is keen to upgrade its fleet. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 21711188)

The investment would also reduce unplanned maintenance costs, Aurigny’s chief executive has said, as he mapped out plans to upgrade the airline’s ageing fleet.

Aurigny has released its annual report and accounts for 2017 today, which show reported losses of £5.19m. on par with the year before.

While senior staff have said it will be difficult to turn around losses given the ‘sub-scale and static’ market, the company is looking to its fleet as a way to improve its finances.

An airline spokesman said that the technology on new planes is expected to bring a runway visual range of 300 metres. ‘At the moment, we operate at 550m. At 300m, it will vastly improve our ability to land in fog. We believe it could cut disruption, caused by fog locally, by up to around 50%.’

Chief executive Mark Darby outlined the need to reduce the age of its fleet. ‘Aurigny’s fleet has an average age of 14.5 years. easyJet, acknowledged as a lead player in the short-haul market, has a fleet with average age of 7.7 years. Ryanair’s fleet of 300 aircraft has an average of 5.5 years. Flybe has a fleet of 75 aircraft with an average age of 9.6 years.

‘Leading airlines have policies of fleet renewal for good reason, they are seeking to exert control over maintenance costs and avoid declines in reliability which come with ageing aircraft. Aurigny’s directors keep our fleet requirements under review and are actively evaluating renewal of the ATR fleet.’

It was also an ideal chance to limit weather delays. Operations were disrupted by fog on more than 60 days last year, Mr Darby said.

‘We continue to work hard to minimise the disruption to our services which the challenges of operating in these extreme weather conditions brings.

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‘We maintain back-up aircraft in our fleet and standby crews to fly them, enabling us to recover as swiftly and smoothly as possible from weather related delays.

‘Of course, this high level of resilience comes at a cost, which airlines flying in other less challenging places don’t have to bear. Add to that the costs of looking after passengers who are delayed, and it adds up to a significant sum.

‘Looking forward, aircraft installed technology solutions – enhanced vision systems – are becoming available which have the capacity to change things for the better for Guernsey. Aurigny has the in-house skills, experience and capability to capitalise on these opportunities as they become available on new aircraft.’

Aurigny is in discussions with aircraft manufacturers and Mr Darby ‘hopes to be able to report positively on developments in our fleet’ later this year.

The delivery of a second Dornier 228NG aircraft was delayed by the manufacturer last year and is yet to enter the fleet. This is now expected to happen mid-2018, at which time the primary fleet age will reduce significantly. More on Page 2

Aaron Carpenter

By Aaron Carpenter
News reporter

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