‘Salty Blonde was the only option for 2022’

THE Salty Blonde ferry service was the only viable option for the Alderney ferry services this year, the States of Alderney has said, after the company has faced a social media backlash.

Ashlin, the Salty Blonde ferry.(30695935)
Ashlin, the Salty Blonde ferry.(30695935)

Alderney’s Policy & Finance Committee approved a recommendation from the Economic Development Committee for the eight-seater Salty Blonde to operate the seasonal ferry service between the island and Guernsey for 2022.

Alderney residents expressed their annoyance that the company’s vessel, Ashlin, had four fewer seats than previous operator the Spike Islander.

The States of Alderney criticised the ‘ill-informed and at times unfairly critical comment on social media platforms about the provision of a ferry service to and from Guernsey'.

‘If The Salty Blonde had not tendered for the subsidy, there would be no States-supported service this year. At the time of making the decision, there were three applicants, two other companies had withdrawn at an earlier stage,’ said a spokesman.

‘Each business model was compared against a range of factors including economic expectations and funding requirements.

‘Following evaluation by the EDC, The Salty Blonde was chosen as the only viable option when all these factors were taken into consideration.

‘It is important to note that The Salty Blonde is a Storm Force Rib which could enable a full seasonal service for the island with two or even three rotations per day between April and December.

‘By way of clarification, there were no bids received for a larger ferry to run a daily service.’

Blonde Hedgehog group director Tracey Farquhar-Beck said it had put together a proposal for a ferry service from a small operation they had already had running.

‘This schedule is highly unlikely to make any profit but will offer a service to the island,’ she said.

‘We are employing four local people, bringing in more tourists and giving Alderney residents another means of transportation.’

The previous ferry operator, the Little Ferry Company, had run the service with the 12-seat Spike Islander since 2018, but pulled out of the process unexpectedly.

The new service provides for two rotations per day, six times per week, with the possibility of an extra sailing in the height of the season, with the contract scheduled to run until 31 December.

Several sailings were scheduled last week, some of which were cancelled due to bad weather.

Mrs Farquhar-Beck said the passengers who had travelled on The Salty Blonde so far have been overwhelmingly supportive.

The States subsidy is based on volumes and the total payable will be dependent on successfully-completed rotations.

The decision was made by the States to support a seasonal ferry to attract visitors for economic benefit.

The States is confident that the economic benefit of the 2022 subsidy may be greater than previous years, despite the smaller vessel.

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