While the business case for buying the aircraft has yet to go before the States, the airline said that the reservation fee allowed it to secure advantageous terms for the ‘game-changer’ planes and was fully refundable.
Aurigny also stressed that it would not be seeking any capital investment from the States of Guernsey for the ATR-72 600s, which it said would have a ‘positive effect’ on the airline’s financial position by ensuring its fleet was ‘fit for purpose’ while cutting disruption.
The planes are expected to replace the three ATR 72-500s operated by the airline.
The news comes as Aurigny CEO Mark Darby said that he wanted to provide ‘some clarity’ over the offer that the company received to be the launch partner for ATR’s fog-beating ClearVision technology after last month signing a ‘letter of intent’ to purchase three planes.
In a letter to the Guernsey Press, Mr Darby said: ‘Firstly, it’s no secret that Aurigny has for some time been monitoring the development of technology aimed at overcoming fog disruption that so often hits our operations.
‘At the same time, like all airlines, we keep our fleet requirements under constant review and consider renewal opportunities in order to control maintenance costs and avoid reductions in reliability which result from ageing aircraft.’
He said that Aurigny was encouraged to hear of ATR’s progress with ClearVision, an ‘enhanced vision system’, on the manufacturer’s new ATR-72 600 aircraft – with ‘impressive’ results during a visit to Guernsey earlier this year.
‘Not long after, ATR approached us with an exciting opportunity to be the launch partner for ClearVision, as part of a very attractive and cost-effective offer to upgrade our fleet and replace our ageing aircraft.’
A letter of intent to purchase three of the new aircraft was subsequently signed, but on the ‘full understanding’ that a business case must go to the States, whichwill ultimately decide whether to approve.
‘To reiterate, this is a non-binding agreement, but crucially, meant we could secure the advantageous terms of the offer.
‘If we had not done so, we could not have provided any meaningful detail or terms in our business case, in order for the States to make an informed and evidence-based decision,’ said the Aurigny CEO.
‘It’s also important to note that we will not be seeking any capital investment from the States – simply asking the States to act as a guarantor of financing to allow us to make this investment ourselves.’
Investment in the new aircraft would result in ‘significant’ savings for Aurigny over the next decade, bringing it closer to break-even.
Nor would it not take funds away from a possible runway extension or other infrastructure investment by the States, said Mr Darby.
He added: ‘We believe future investment in new aircraft is critical for our future operational resilience.
‘It ensures we have a fleet that is fit for purpose for years to come, that is reliable, and at the same time reduce our costs.
‘We also have an exciting opportunity to help launch new technology that could cut disruption in Guernsey dramatically.’
Fog-beating tech a ‘win-win’ for airline, Opinion, Page 17