Aurigny turned down Heathrow slots to maintain Gatwick service

HEATHROW slots which were offered to Aurigny have been turned down by the States-owned airline because of the pandemic.

The States’ Trading & Supervisory Board said it is backing Aurigny’s decision to decline a Heathrow spot this winter, as a service would need to be substituted for a Gatwick one. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28688288)
The States’ Trading & Supervisory Board said it is backing Aurigny’s decision to decline a Heathrow spot this winter, as a service would need to be substituted for a Gatwick one. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28688288)

The slots, which were offered only on a temporary basis, used to be highly coveted, but Covid-19 has caused limitations.

A spokesperson for Aurigny explained why they declined the offer: ‘Aurigny would like to clarify that due to the Covid crisis slots at Heathrow had become temporarily available to them. ‘However, given the cost of such a route, in full consultation with our shareholder, Aurigny have declined them at this time as it would be inappropriate to operate such a route within the current climate.’

The States’ Trading & Supervisory Board has backed Aurigny’s position, and a spokesperson for the board said they did not want to let go of the Gatwick route.

‘At a joint quarterly STSB/Aurigny shareholder company meeting held last week, the offer to take up winter only Heathrow slots, with no possibility of grandfather rights for the future, were discussed at length.

‘Given that demand for services to London this winter is expected to be substantially down on previous years – due to the Covid situation – additional traffic is not anticipated.

‘Therefore in order to operate these slots, the Heathrow service would need to be substituted for a Gatwick service.

‘There would therefore be a significant cost to operate a daily service to Heathrow for this winter only. Given the costs to the airline and the temporary nature of the slots, the STSB unanimously agreed to support Aurigny’s position not to take up this offer.’

The link with London’s most important hub was re-established earlier this year, when Flybe was subsidised by the States to start up the route, after a gap of many years.

However, Flybe became one of the early casualties of the pandemic and collapsed in March after 40 years of regional travel.

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