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Aurigny review ‘finds a lot more good than bad’

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A ‘WARTS and all’ report on Aurigny has shown that, while there is room for improvement, the airline is generally well managed.

Aurigny CEO Mark Darby on the first of three new ATR 72-600s to arrive. A review of the airline by an independent specialist aviation consultancy has found that Aurigny is well managed. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 26172026)

The review by specialist aviation consultancy PA Nyras has been welcomed by the airline and the States’ Trading and Supervisory Board and Scrutiny Management Committee, with the presidents of both departments saying it highlights the need for a transport strategy review.

It comes with the airline’s management under mounting political criticism in some quarters for mounting losses.

‘What the States needs is a proper transport strategy. To me, that is the way forward,’ said STSB president Peter Ferbrache.

‘The report gives a genuine independent appraisal of how Aurigny is performing, but it shows that they do need improvements in some areas.’ He said it showed the difficult job that the airline had to do in a small market and competitive environment.

‘We said [to PA Nyras] “Do it warts and all” and it will show the good, the bad and the ugly, and the report shows there’s a lot more good than bad.’

Although the review said that while the subsidy of Heathrow’s operation by Flybe had probably contributed to Aurigny’s losses, it was not entirely to blame and said that crew costs for the airline’s ATRs and Dorniers were high due to their operating early morning and evening departures.

There was also a suggestion in the report that the airline managing three different kinds of aircraft given its small size made for large overheads, but Deputy Ferbrache said that the ATRs would not be able to service Alderney and the Trislanders had to be replaced because they were at the end of their life. ‘They had to get a different plane and they were advised as to the best planes to get,’ he said.

One suggestion that he said is already being looked at by the airline is developing routes that could be operated in the middle of the day, with PA Nyras suggesting the airline either look at new airports or perhaps returning on a limited basis to ones where it has previously operated.

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Scrutiny Management Committee president Chris Green said it hoped the report was the starting point in creating an aviation strategy for the islands which is agreed across government and which acknowledged the key role that Aurigny can play.

The report was commissioned following a report in 2015 that looked at the security of strategic air links: ‘The previous Scrutiny Committee was very much cognisant of the fact that with an airline in public ownership there was a risk of it becoming inefficient over time.

‘The bit I am really interested in is that it underlines the fact that the States’ aims given to Aurigny are conflicting. We want Aurigny to break even, but also to be an economic enabler.

‘I think Aurigny breaking even is a bit of a pipe-dream, really.’

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Deputy Green said that Economic Development’s decision to provide a subsidy to FlyBe to operate Heathrow was something that should have been discussed by the States and should not have been made in-committee.

He was also critical of the time it was taking for the Guernsey-Alderney Public Service Obligation to be resolved: ‘In our view the PSO can’t happen soon enough,’ he said.

‘This doesn’t reflect well on the States’ abilities to deal with big issues.’

BLOB Among next week’s budget proposals is one that would back Policy & Resources consulting Economic Development and the STSB to develop a framework for air routes that are under the control or influence of the States.

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