States’ Supervisory Trading Board president Peter Roffey said that plans would be put forward soon to lengthen the runway and wants the work to be completed next year.
If the States approves such a proposal, then a new airport terminal building is also likely to be required, which has raised fears of very high costs.
‘We need to look on the resilience side – the current arrangement is fragile,’ he said after Aurigny’s Easter weekend issues with Dornier aircraft effectively shut down the airport for five days.
A runway extension, known as Option C, should allow Aurigny to fly ATRs into the island, and is the option being prioritised.
Three proposed options will be assessed to get an idea of what the work will cost, but option C is being prioritised. This involves the construction of a new terminal and extending the runway to 1,050m, meaning larger aircraft could make fly there.
Savings made through option C would include those projected by Aurigny through its use of a bigger aircraft and being able to simplify its fleet.
‘I prefer not to talk about exact figures before going out to tender,’ said Deputy Roffey.
‘But in about 10 or 11 years we would move into the black on it. There would be an added saving when you look at it over a 15-year period.’
But there are serious concerns about the potential costs and local experts have highlighted that simply enabling a runway extension may not be sufficient to allow ATRs to operate on the Alderney route.
The runway was last resurfaced in 1999 and was intended to last about 20 years. Guernsey Ports said the condition of the runway, taxiway and apron are now deteriorating and regular patch and sealing repairs can only provide a short-term, unsustainable solution.
Issues with the Alderney runway and one of Aurigny’s Dorniers resulted in at least five days of disruption last week, with many flights being cancelled and chartered boats between the island and Guernsey being offered to passengers as an alternative.
Guernsey Ports said that a ‘do nothing’ option has been discounted ‘as it would involve ongoing deterioration of the existing surface resulting in increased operational disruption’.