'Ongoing dialogue' to help understand cost of pandemic for Aurigny
THE cost of shoring up Aurigny during the global pandemic is being closely monitored.
The States-owned airline has had to suspend or reduce flights since March, and in April deputies agreed that an additional overdraft of £27m. should be made available to Aurigny, if required.
With a new seven-day quarantine regime coming into effect from Monday 17 August, and no published time frame yet for quarantine-free travel, opening up to tourists will be the last phase of Guernsey’s exit out of lockdown.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Deputy Gavin St Pier, the chairman of the Civil Contingencies Authority, said the cost to the taxpayer to support Aurigny would be ‘significant’, but he did not provide any ballpark figure.
‘There have been some positives for them, particularly the Isle of Man air bridge, which has exceeded their expectations and they’ve put on more capacity to do so.
‘On the other hand the ongoing restrictions may be projecting further than they originally anticipated.
‘There is going to be an ongoing dialogue with them so that we properly understand that.
‘Through the States’ Trading Supervisory Board, we need to understand what the financial impact is because it feeds directly through to the bottom line in terms of taxpayer support, and that was one of the questions that’s been discussed at meetings this week is making sure that as the situation continues to evolve we continue to be kept updated as to what the projected impact is on Aurigny’s financial performance.’
In April, the States’ financial experts were estimating a 13-week lockdown period would cost Aurigny dearly.
That timespan ended in June, and although the authorities have acknowledged that quarantined travel cannot stay in place indefinitely, they are worried about the surge of new infections worldwide.
They also want to make sure they have all the necessary staffing and technology resources for large-scale Covid-19 testing when the borders do reopen more fully.
Even with borders open, demand is expected to be significantly depressed.
Making a profit was already a problem at Aurigny even before it was confronted by the pandemic. Last year it lost about £9.6m.
* This story has been edited with a new headline and some changes to the text. The original headline wrongly stated that 'Aurigny support was likely to exceed the forecast'. The Guernsey Press accepts that there is no evidence that the £27m. overdraft facility agreed in April was likely to be exceeded. We apologise for the error.