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‘Alderney routes Dornier charter would cost £6m.’

News | Published:

IT WOULD cost Aurigny almost £6m. to lease an extra Dornier to provide more capacity on the Alderney-Southampton route this summer, it has been revealed.

Steve Roberts, Alderney States member and representative in the States of Guernsey. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 27059348)

But while it will have to lose some 7,000 seats on the route due to not having enough aircraft, it is hoped that an extension to Alderney Airport’s opening hours will help mitigate this.

Affordability was the reason given by the airline to the States’ Trading Supervisory Board for it not considering leasing another Dornier, said STSB president Peter Ferbrache in reply to written questions put by Alderney representative Steve Roberts.

The last time Aurigny contracted a Dornier on a wet lease basis, it cost 33,000 euros a day.

To do this for the 210 days of the summer season would have led to the cost being in the region of 6.9m. euros, or just under £6m.

Even to have it for the 15 days around Alderney Week would cost 495,000 euros (nearly £400,000) and this is almost the cost of putting a new wing on an old Dornier.

Replacing this wing is something that the airline will do if it wins the public service obligation process to operate the Guernsey-Alderney route.

If it does not win the tender, it will no longer need the Dorniers and will dispose of them, said Deputy Ferbrache.

Because of the need to re-wing a Dornier, Aurigny will not be able to maintain capacity on the Southampton route and as result will offer 7,114 fewer seats.

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To compensate, Alderney Airport will open for an hour longer at peak periods during the summer.

Deputy Ferbrache said this will allow the airline to operate more services between the island and Guernsey than normal, and provide more opportunities for Alderney passengers to connect with onward services in Guernsey, including flights to and from Southampton.

This will lead to an additional 5,273 seats on the Alderney-Guernsey route, meaning a net loss of 1,841 seats.

Mr Roberts had asked Deputy Ferbrache if the STSB had approved what he called Aurigny’s ‘unilateral abandonment of their obligations set out in the Memorandum of Understanding’.

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Deputy Ferbrache did not accept that the changes being proposed by Aurigny amounted to ‘unilateral abandonment’ in the light of it continuing to meet the MoU’s requirements in the winter and that it was going to offer more seats to Guernsey to mitigate, ‘albeit partially’, the reduction in capacity.

Alderney representative 'not totally convinced' at accuracy of STSB figures

ALDERNEY representative Steve Roberts was not convinced by costs quoted by the president of the States’ Trading Supervisory Board in response to his questions.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache said that it could cost Aurigny about £6m. to lease a Dornier to cover the summer season, but Mr Roberts said he was sceptical.

‘I am not totally convinced as to the accuracy and I am not alone as I have friends within aviation,’ he said.

‘I believe they have been exaggerated. No one sees the accounts do they? It’s disappointing to say the least.’

He pointed out that an Islander could be bought for £350,000.

‘Ten of those would give the rebirth of a Channel Islands airline and restore your own Guernsey-Jersey links – a taxi service like it used to be.’

This would be a money-saving exercise that would cut Guernsey’s losses and restore Alderney’s economy.

‘We could then move on then to a 10-year aviation vision, with closer links to France and better direct Alderney mainland links,’ said Mr Roberts.

He wondered if a smaller subsidiary company run from Alderney could be a solution, since it would create jobs and wealth while at the same time being run by people with an emotional attachment to the island.

Plans to operate just two aircraft and a net loss of about 1,800 seats ‘will result in our worst year ever with periods of no link at all’.

He laid the blame for the problems firmly at Guernsey’s door.

‘We had a perfectly good airline before Guernsey purchased it,’ he said.

‘We are grateful for our partnership and you have become our friends, but we need now to defend ourselves, and that saddens me.’

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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