Alderney representative Steve Roberts told this week’s States of Guernsey meeting that Alderney’s States had continued to explore a number of regular ferry service options but it all boiled down to financial viability.
‘In 2019 and 2020 we were well served through the summer period by The Little Ferry Company with a 12-seater which was often full but, due to its size, had to cancel whenever the sea was particularly rough,’ he said.
‘It looks very uncertain whether a service can be arranged for 2021 despite having had conversations with a couple of potential providers.
‘Hopefully with the assistance and input from those in this Assembly a way might be found to ensure there will be a ferry service this year.’
Bruno Kay-Mouat, managing director of Alderney Shipping, which runs The Little Ferry Company, said it was looking at the feasibility of using a larger vessel on the route.
‘We are currently reviewing it with our partners and speaking to the appropriate regulators,’ he said.
For the past three years the service had operated with the help of financial support from the States of Alderney.
‘The take-up has been exceptional and we were running at more than 80% capacity,’ he said.
‘Last year, with the lack of tourists, it was more about staycations and we did more in the way of period returns than we did day-trippers.’
The company’s vessel, Spike Islander, operated the route with help from charter operators at peak times or when it was out of service on occasions.
‘It was the Dunkirk spirit – moving a lot of people with small boats,’ said Mr Kay-Mouat.
‘The customers were considerate and understanding and on days when he had to cancel, they didn’t jump on us.’
The company had benefited from good support from the States of Alderney and Guernsey Harbours, he added.
Mr Roberts told Guernsey’s States that not having a service would be a real loss to the Bailiwick in a year when Alderney was likely to be a top travel destination for Guernsey residents.
The States of Alderney is inviting expressions of interest to operate a seasonal ferry service between the islands initially for a one-year period but with an option to extend the contract on an annual basis for a further two.
It is envisaged that a minimum service for the route would involve double rotations, preferably daily but a minimum of five days per week, including Friday and Sunday to facilitate overnight visits.