Aurigny criticises open skies impact
THE quasi open skies policy adopted by the States is destabilising the air market, Aurigny has said, after the number of passengers flying to Gatwick slumped over the summer.
The States-owned airline’s concerns come against a positive picture for air travel in general.
More than 17,000 extra passengers have travelled through Guernsey Airport this summer, compared with 2018.
The flight figures for June, July and August saw a 7% rise in the number of movements, with 260,098 in total over the three months.
August was the strongest month, with 91,208 movements – an 8.69% rise.
But the Gatwick route has been struggling, with fewer passengers travelling in August this year than in October 2018.
The Heathrow service, which was launched in March, reached its peak so far in August, with 3,711 passengers. That dipped to 3,053 during September. The service is being operated by Flybe and subsidised by the States.
At Gatwick, Aurigny struggled in August, with 4,500 fewer passenger movements than in August 2018 – a 14% drop. A fall of more than 2,800 (9%) passengers was again recorded in September.
An Aurigny spokesman was not surprised by the figures.
‘The open skies policy really started to destabilise the market during the summer, with more destinations from Guernsey added and the heavily-subsidised Heathrow service and Southend link as alternative London options,’ they said.
‘This meant that our Gatwick route had fewer customers during August and September.
‘In August alone there were 6,625 passengers on the new services to Heathrow and Southend and a further 5,408 in September.’
Aurigny has moved to compete with Blue Islands on Southampton this year and the route performed strongly in August.
The south coast airport saw a 39% increase when comparing August 2018 and this summer. More than 17,500 used the service.
The Aurigny spokesman said it had seen the Southampton route gain in popularity since it was launched in May and numbers were rising slowly.
‘We recognise that our customers enjoy the size and convenience of the airport and the easy onward connections that it offers by rail and air,’ they said.
Jersey travel numbers dipped below 10,000 during August for the first time since May, but they rebounded to more than 11,300 during September – a 12% rise compared to September last year. A similar dip was recorded in August 2018.
September saw 83,982 passenger movements – more than June – and there was a 6.7% increase compared with September 2018.
The Aurigny spokesman said it would expect a summer dip due to fewer business travellers.
‘The rise in September passengers numbers year-on-year shows the market capitalising on two airlines now operating this route,’ they said.
Blue Islands’ Southend service, which launched in May, has so far seen more than 10,000 passenger movements. This peaked in August with more than 2,900 movements.
The new Liverpool service, which also launched in May and ran until September saw 3,122 passenger movements in the first five months of the route, with it peaking at 1,032 in August.
On the international services, Dusseldorf enjoyed the best summer with more than 2,800 passenger movements – matching its 2018 total.
Overall 8,500 international passenger movements have been recorded – a 4.68% rise.