But while bookings are much lower than anticipated, yesterday was still the airline’s busiest day before Christmas, said commercial director Malcolm Coupar.
Aurigny has not been alone among British airlines in seeing a sharp downturn in new bookings coupled with increased rates of cancellations, primarily around the Christmas and New Year period.
‘Up until the [Omicron] announcement we were expecting a bumper holiday period and forward sales were looking great,’ Mr Coupar said.
‘Unfortunately bookings for the holiday period are now much lower than in normal times and many flights that were full have seen up to 25% of the bookings being cancelled.’
Up to two weeks’ ago yesterday’s flights were set to be carrying about 2,000 passengers, but he said that in the end about 1,500 were carried.
‘This pattern of cancellations prevails right through the holiday period. It is very disappointing for our staff who have worked so hard to prepare for the holiday rush, but understandable in the circumstances.’
Throughout the pandemic the airline has offered Aurigny Assurance which allows people to cancel flights without losing their money, regardless of the reason for their cancellation.
Mr Coupar said he had no doubt that this made the decision to cancel easier.
Numbers travelling will still be fairly low into the new year, he added.
‘We have recently been reducing the number of flights on offer in January and February to try to better match the capacity available to the low demand patterns we are experiencing.’
But Aurigny is still planning to operate its seasons ski services to Grenoble and Geneva and hopes that the French and Swiss governments loosen their border controls in the weeks to come to allow leisure travel to their skiing resorts from the British isles.
‘We will be watching this closely over the next few weeks and keeping customers with bookings informed of what is happening.’