Blue Islands: ‘Guernsey will not lose out over Jersey deal’
BLUE ISLANDS emerged from lockdown with a new look and promises of new routes from Guernsey yesterday.
And its CEO gave an assurance that local jobs would continue to be provided, despite it being given a multimillion-pound loan by the States of Jersey.
Rob Veron said that since the collapse of Flybe, the airline had been busy talking to governments and airports where it operated and it had undertaken to pick up some of the routes dropped as a result of Flybe’s demise.
However, the agreement with Jersey did not mean Guernsey was going to lose out: ‘We’ve been a pan-island operation for our entire existence and we will make sure that continues,’ he said.
‘Inter-island flights are very much going to continue. We’ve served that route for 15 years and it’s going to be the mainstay of the programme.’
He said the deal with the Jersey States was about ensuring the long-term sustainability of the airline and safeguarding its future in the Channel Islands.
Exeter and Birmingham will be new routes from Jersey, which will also become Blue Islands’ main base.
It is also going to expand its Southampton service and will seek to operate flights from there to Manchester and Dublin and from Exeter to Manchester.
Guernsey will also see flights to Exeter and Birmingham in future, he said.
Local staff were furloughed during lockdown, with the airline taking advantage of the States’ payroll co-funding scheme, and Mr Veron said that they would all keep their jobs.
Its new branding was created in-house and its newly decorated ATR-72 flew into the island to show off the company colours.
Passengers have also been asked for their thoughts on what could improve the airline, and have been listened to, said Mr Veron: ‘Our “welcome difference” initiative has been reinvigorated,’ he said. ‘We surveyed 6,000 customers and two-thirds of them wanted baggage included [in ticket prices] so every product has got that.’
Among those at the airport to see the new-look ATR arrive was Economic Development committee member Deputy Joe Mooney. ‘It’s fantastic when you see so many other airlines laying off staff and grounding aircraft and here’s someone who has used the last three months to rebrand and wait for the opportunity to fly again,’ he said.
‘When the borders come down it’ll be good that there’s another airline.’