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Current air licensing regime ‘deterring low-cost airlines’

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LOW-COST airlines are deterred from travelling to and from Guernsey because of its current licensing regime, they have told Economic Development.

Economic Development have said that low-cost airlines that they have spoken to would ‘be deterred by anything other than the lightest touch licensing regime/open skies’. (Picture by Rob Currie, 21720499)

The committee, which has announced plans to liberalise air routes except for Gatwick and Alderney, consulted low-cost carriers, as well as other airlines, as part of their work to draw up the new proposals.

‘Most airlines we consulted were satisfied with the current process, but low cost carriers said they would be deterred by anything other than the lightest touch licensing regime/open skies.’

easyJet, which has previously mooted running a Guernsey service but pulled the plug because of the length of the runway, said challenges still existed.

‘Flying to and from Guernsey continues to be an operational challenge for easyJet. However, we continue to review commercial and operational opportunities and we would work with the airport should there be an opportunity in the future,’ said a spokesman.

Economic Development’s plans, which will be debated by the States, are for a ‘quasi open skies’ policy where operators or charters serving any route apart from lifeline ones will be exempt from the need to hold a Guernsey air transport licence.

It is hoped that this will lead to flights to more destinations.

The committee proposes that Gatwick and Alderney are classed as lifeline routes, but the Alderney to Southampton link will be outside this regime.

A Flybe spokesman welcomed the plans.

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‘The announcement by the States of Guernsey to liberalise air routes is welcome news and the competition will be of great benefit overall for Guernsey,’ said the representative of Europe’s largest regional airline.

‘The open skies agreement opens up much-needed opportunities for those operators interested in introducing new routes to and from the island.’

Economic Development said its examination of the Transport Licensing Authority’s licence data showed that nine out of 10 licence applications were approved.

However, some airlines had been granted air route licences to operate a route but then did not, suggesting that the licensing process was not the main or only barrier to route development.

An Aurigny spokesman said: ‘We will now need to review the proposals and assess the likely impact on our operations; whether it is likely to give rise to new opportunities or have any impact on our existing routes.’

n Blue Islands are expected to respond in due course.

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