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Extending runway ‘would be a catalyst for change’

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A RUNWAY EXTENSION would be a catalyst for change, according to the hospitality industry.

(Picture By Peter Frankland, 24440779)

The Chamber of Commerce Hospitality Group wants the States to spend more money investigating the option of a 1,700m runway.

A Policy & Resources report recommending that no more work is carried out on a full extension will go to the States next week. It costs working up a business case for a 1,700 to 1,800m runway at £700,000.

The hospitality group argues that the PwC report into air and sea links, on which P&R makes its case, showed that a 1,700m runway was the most compelling option of those it investigated.

‘With the facility to enable more airlines with larger planes to operate into the island all year round, the benefits of a 1,700m runway to the island are only positive, not just for the tourist industry, but all local business sectors, and all the island’s population in general,’ Alan and Aine Sillett, the joint heads of the Chamber Hospitality Group, said in a letter to the Guernsey Press.

It has been endorsed by 48 people working in the sector.

They argue that Guernsey has the shortest runway of 25 leading islands and that the current 1,463m length is playing a major part in falling passenger numbers.

Between 2013 and 2017, passenger numbers dropped from 860,000 to 813,000.

High fares are ‘business blockers’, they said, reducing potential tourists and people visiting friends and family.

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The cost of flying is also causing recruitment problems, with candidates put off by the price compared with other places they could move to.

They back consideration of Aurigny operating as a ‘virtual airline,’ to allow other larger operators with cheaper seats to fly to and from Guernsey.

‘There are a number of UK airlines that would consider operating into Guernsey, plus European airlines such as Lufthansa have shown an interest, but they all require a 1,700m runway.’

They ask where the business case is for leaving the runway at its current length.

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‘The proposed 1,700m runway extension would be a catalyst for change, and send out a positive message that yes, Guernsey is open for business, and attract investment into many business sectors including tourism, plus extend the season, ensuring that St Peter Port is not a ghost town in off-peak periods.’

The States meeting begins next Wednesday.

The letter by the Chamber of Commerce Hospitality Group can be read in Saturday’s Guernsey Press

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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