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Start-ups without commercial record can tender for air links

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THE winning tender for Alderney’s air routes is not likely to be ratified until ‘well into the new year’, residents have been told.

In an effort to attract a wider range of applicants for the Alderney air link tender, bidders have been able to specify whether they want to operate scheduled flight links or a medevac or both. (26101616)

The States was originally expected to vote on the PSO operator at the September meeting, following a decision on the preferred bidder by Economic Development.

A repeat PSO tendering process began in May this year after previous rounds failed to elicit any satisfactory propositions from any of the four bidders.

In an effort to attract a wider range of applicants, this time bidders have been able to specify whether they want to operate scheduled flight links or a medevac or both.

Another significant departure from the original process for PSO 2 is that it now allows start-up companies with no previous commercial aviation experience to tender.

The scheduled timetable has hit a number of bumps in the road.

Economic Development is having to spend longer than forecast conducting due diligence on the applications.

It has also emerged that new air operators based in the Channel Islands – and therefore in possession of only a Channel Island Air Operator Certificate – will not, as Bailiwick law currently stands, be able to gain licensing to operate a commercial passenger service to and from Southampton.

Aurigny and Flybe are the only Channel Islands operators with the documentation to do so and only Aurigny is known to have tendered.

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First the States debate was expected at the November meeting. Now resolution on the matter has reportedly been delayed until as late as next February.

At Alderney’s October People’s Meeting, Policy and Finance Committee chairman James Dent was asked by States Member Alex Snowdon to provide an update on the PSO process.

Mr Dent said the Committee for Economic Development had asked the bidding parties to provide further information about the services they could deliver and added that it now looked unlikely that their final decision would come before the States until February, he said.

‘It now seems that this information will not be provided until late October and that the Committee for Economic Development will not be considering the matter until well into November,’ said Mr Dent.

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‘This is all now beginning to look as if it won’t go to the States of Guernsey for a decision until well into the new year.’

He said it was not in the power of the States of Alderney to influence the speed or machinations of the process.

A spokesman for the States of Guernsey would not divulge details of the timetable.

‘Given the commercial nature of the PSO it’s not possible to comment on it while the process is ongoing,’ he said.

However, at the September States meeting, States’ Trading Supervisory Board president Peter Ferbrache said they understood that the PSO process was to be completed in September but is now delayed further and may come through in November.

STSB has direct political responsibility for Aurigny.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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