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‘We would be interested if Heathrow slots were to become available’

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WITH the potential of 11 slots into Heathrow coming on to the market with the collapse of Flybe, the vice-president of Policy & Resources said that States could be interested in taking them on.

Policy & Resources vice-president Deputy Lyndon Trott spoke about the island's possible interest in Heathrow slots in the wake of the collapse of Flybe. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 27375483)

Lyndon Trott said that what mattered now was how the airline’s administrators viewed them.

‘They might like to sell them to the highest bidder,’ he said.

‘But they might decide they are the jewel in the crown of Flybe.

‘If these 11 slots came onto the market at a price level that could be justified, would the States be interested in claiming them? I think the answer would be “yes”,’ he said.

The States had given Flybe a subsidy for its Heathrow service, but Deputy Trott said that this money had been paid retrospectively and so it had not gone to waste. ‘The taxpayer is not out of pocket to any material extent.’

As Blue Islands put on ‘rescue’ flights yesterday and Aurigny also stepped in to help those affected, Deputy Trott said the States had already been in touch with the chief officers of the airlines to discuss the situation and ensure business as usual as far as possible.

While passengers flying from Exeter and Birmingham were being catered for by Blue Islands, those who were on the Heathrow route were being offered the chance to book flights to Gatwick with Aurigny at a reduced cost.

Blue Islands continued to operate its own flights to Southampton and Jersey, although online bookings could not be made due to the airline using the now inoperative Flybe system.

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Deputy Trott said a close eye is going to be kept on the viability of Southampton Airport now that its key operator, Flybe, has ceased operating.

He said that some 90% of that airport’s traffic was operated by the airline.

‘The relationship between Guernsey Airport and Southampton Airport is a significant one because of our relationship with Southampton General Hospital.’

By comparison, Flybe accounted for only about 10% of Guernsey Airport’s traffic. ‘90% aren’t affected. And even that 10% is being pretty much catered for by both Blue Islands and Aurigny and they should be commended on behalf of our community.’

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But he could not say what might occur in the near future: ‘The next few days are very difficult to predict.

‘What we can be absolutely certain of is that nobody should have any difficulty getting a flight into or out of Guernsey.’

Comment Page 14

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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