Aurigny CEO in departures

IT’S probably one of the toughest jobs in Guernsey.

But also one of the most rewarding, says Mark, who has been at the helm of Aurigny since 2013.

‘The things that come up are always interesting. It is quite an unusual job. I can honestly say there has never been a dull day,’ he adds.

‘You can’t just be an engineer, ground handling, accountant – you have to have a breadth of experience to carry the CEO role off.’

His tenure has seen a complete fleet renewal including the introduction of the Embraer E195 jet, the replacement of the old ATRs with new ATR 72-600s and the replacement of the Trislander fleet with Dornier 228NG aircraft.

Mark has also been responsible for the creation of Aurigny’s own ground handling operations at London Gatwick and overseen the complete overhaul of the airfare tariff options and the launch of an updated website.

The departing chief executive also drove the business close to its break-even target on its services in 2018 under the framework agreed with Aurigny’s shareholder, the States of Guernsey.

Issues have also ranged from dealing with challenges such as fog to transporting animals to passengers misbehaving on-board. Plus, dealing with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions.

‘Because it is so important to the community, you cannot help but get sucked in. When I took on the job I made the decision to move here because I didn’t feel I could do the job property if I wasn’t part of the community that I serve,’ says Mark.

‘We made it a requirement that my replacement has to move here otherwise you just don’t get it and feel the pressure – the emotional side of running one of the island’s most important institutions.

‘Most of the time it has been enjoyable and satisfying.’

His passion for the airline and Bailiwick also reveals itself when we talk about his belief that Aurigny is a huge asset for the community. Not least in light of the pandemic and the experience of other small islands when it comes to security of air links.

The Caribbean islands have seen a ‘free for all’ while the Isle of Man lost its own airline some years ago and now has to take what it is given by the airlines, says the Aurigny boss.

‘Owning an airline was a big bold move by the States in 2003, though at times it has been expensive and this year it has been very expensive.

‘But we are one of a few small island jurisdictions where we control our own air links.’

In the future, greater clarity about what the States, and by extension, islanders, want from Aurigny would be a positive step.

‘The objectives need to be very clearly stated and understood by all, not just the airline, but the whole community because there is often a dis-connect.’

Looking to the future, Mark continues: ‘I am looking forward to a slightly less stressful life. This job is all consuming. You don’t have much time to get involved in many other things outside of work-life. And it needs to be that way because it is important for the community.

‘There are always interruptions, phone calls and emails. It’s not quite 24/7, but nearly.

‘I will be sorry to move on and at the same time I believe that the board have found a good replacement.

‘I am going to be around until next spring to provide support.’

Mark and his wife Karen plan to stay in Guernsey and enjoy life here in the islands where they have made their home. While Mark has no plans to get involved in another airline, having always said Aurigny would probably always be his last one in his career, he is looking at a number of non-executive director roles.

n Nico Bezuidenhout has been named as the new Aurigny chief executive and will take on the role later this autumn. He founded Mango Airlines and was chief executive of the South African Airways subsidiary until recently.

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News