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‘No quick fixes’ to growing Alderney air links problem

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THERE are no quick fixes, Alderney has been told after raising concerns that failing air links could spell disaster for the island.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 25928583)

Policy & Finance chairman James Dent wrote to Policy & Resources president Gavin St Pier after weeks of ‘huge deterioration’.

A petition protesting about Aurigny’s service has already been handed over to Guernsey, while residents have also written directly to deputies about their experiences.

Delays of up to five days, diversions and cancellations have been far too frequent, according to Mr Dent.

A Policy & Resources spokesman said that Aurigny and its staff provide a vital service to our communities.

‘But of course the Policy & Resources Committee is cognisant of the impact any disruption of Alderney’s air links has on the community,’ he said.

‘It has been the subject of a number of statements in the States’ Assembly this year alone and urgent questions at the States’ meeting to Deputy Peter Ferbrache as the president of the States’ Trading Supervisory Board, Aurigny’s shareholder.’

It was announced in February that the Scrutiny Management Committee had commissioned jointly with the STSB an efficiency review of Aurigny.

‘This review will produce an initial diagnostic assessment of the operational and financial efficiency of the airline. This will include a review of Aurigny’s budgets, management accounts and other management information to develop a better understanding of the airline’s performance and how improvements can be made to address the concerns of Alderney residents,’ the P&R spokesman said.

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‘As stated in the P&R update to the Assembly in September, the unexpected increase in financial losses declared by Aurigny this year are clearly a troubling development, as these are borne by the taxpayer. And this is unsustainable.

‘P&R are advised by the STSB that numerous factors appear to be driving the deterioration. Most notable, apparently, is the impact of increased competition since the introduction of the quasi open skies policy last year.’

The airline is now expected to lose £7.6m. this year, up from an budgeted £4.4m. loss.

Economic Development is working on a second attempt at a public service obligation (PSO) process in respect of a contract for Alderney’s air links having failed to seal a deal the first time.

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‘It is hoped that this process will conclude shortly.

‘P&R will be giving consideration to appropriate propositions to put to the States as part of the Budget report to refresh the strategic review of Aurigny which took place in the early part of this States, in light of Aurigny’s deteriorating financial position and the changed marketplace.

‘P&R will work together with the STSB and Economic Development, which is responsible for air links policy, so that the States can, as soon as possible, be allowed to make informed choices to address the concerns raised.

‘There are and will be no quick fixes.’

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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