Airport ‘needs future-proofing’

IDENTIFYING a dual use for Guernsey Airport’s car parks is among the many tasks currently facing consultancy firm Aecom, after it was awarded a contract to draw up a masterplan for its future.

Ben Le Huray, chief commercial and infrastructure officer for Guernsey Ports. (30066984)
Ben Le Huray, chief commercial and infrastructure officer for Guernsey Ports. (30066984)

The aim is to set out a long-term route to self-sufficiency, which will mean finding new ways to make money.

It is hoped this can then cover the considerable costs of infrastructure investments that have already been identified.

‘The air traffic control tower was built in the 1970s and it’s coming to the end of its life,’ said Ben Le Huray, chief commercial and infrastructure officer for Guernsey Ports.

‘This is going to bring about severe performance issues, so we need a new tower but we must not invest in isolation.’

The concern is that there is no point in building a new control tower on the same spot as the current one, only to discover in a few years’ time that it needs to be moved to accommodate bigger stands for aircraft – whether that be to comply with new aviation rules or to accommodate larger aircraft.

‘There are lots of moving parts,’ Mr Le Huray said. ‘We need to identify the sequence of investments and how they interact with each other. It’s a fascinating process.’

Before going out to tender, Guernsey Ports liaised with the airlines, the States’ Trading Supervisory Board and the Airport Consultative Committee, which includes representatives from the hangar operators, handlers and the Aero Club.

This determined the parameters for the tendering process, which Aecom – a company specialising in infrastructure consultancy – subsequently won.

The fee is not being divulged, Mr Le Huray said, as it is commercially sensitive. However, he said it was the least expensive of the bids and that it also scored highest in terms of the quality of their pitch.

Aecom will work in conjunction with local property and planning consultant James Le Gallez, who is being hired by that firm, rather than having a separate consultancy contract with Guernsey Ports.

They will report back by the end of the year on the future investment requirements of the terminal building, the airport’s wider operations – such as its administration, fire service and control tower – air navigation and cargo and fuel facilities.

‘We need to be flexible and adapt to changes in demand,’ Mr Le Huray said.

‘For example, air freight has been in relative decline in recent years but e-commerce and just-in-time deliveries have increased. We need to cater for the future.

‘After that, the second phase will focus on opportunities to further leverage our assets and the biggest asset is our real estate.’

The biggest element of the airport’s real estate is, in turn, its car parks.

‘Currently, the car park is only used for parking and it’s on a single level,’ Mr Le Huray said, ‘but could we be doing more?’

Guernsey Ports is keen not to be seen to present islanders with a fait accompli and so a ‘stakeholder engagement plan’ is being developed. This will involve consultation with various bodies including local residents, lobby groups and environmental organisations.

n Secondary schools will be invited to identify students and recent school graduates who might benefit from becoming involved in future work on airport development projects. The tender parameters asked companies to specify what they could offer the people of Guernsey over and above the terms of the project. AECOM undertook to provide opportunities for local students to shadow their teams and, potentially, to become involved in the company’s other projects.

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