Larger aircraft made a success of 2-Reg ...

GUERNSEY’S aircraft registry has continued to grow, generating enough income to cover all its associated costs, while encouraging secondary benefits for the island’s economy.

Nearly nine years since the establishment of 2-Reg, registrar Matt Bisson said 831 aircraft had been registered in total.

This equates to seven per month, but each month of this year has so far seen between 20 and 30 transactions – registrations and de-registrations – indicating an increase in activity.

‘What we want is churn,’ Mr Bisson said.

‘We’re not so much focused on the number of aircraft on the register, as the number of transactions.’

With this in mind, 2-Reg has restricted applications for smaller planes to Guernsey residents, while pursuing fast turnarounds in processing worldwide applications for the largest passenger-carrying jets. But this is now going to be reassessed, under direction from Economic Development.

Matt Bisson, the 2-Reg registrar. (31217472)

‘The smaller aircraft part of our work doesn’t wash its face, but we regard this as a value-added service for the local aviation community,’ Mr Bisson said.

The highest growth is in the corporate aircraft market, which drives promotion of Guernsey to high net-worth individuals, and the majority of the registry’s work revolves around transferring out-of-lease jets from one company to another.

This is why the current register includes 56 Airbus and 43 Boeing jets, often registered in the name of the manufacturer, none of which could ever land in Guernsey.

‘We were early adopters in the market,’ Mr Bisson said. ‘We were one of the first to sign up to the Cape Town convention, which gives confidence that assets that are financed are secured. We are also nimble. While some jurisdictions might take months to process applications, we can turn them around in 48 hours.’

Consequently, the top 15 lessors in the world are now using 2-Reg for this service, generating sufficient royalties to pay for all the civil service costs associated with running it, and the office of the director of civil aviation.

The registry was set up in 2012 under Kevin Stewart’s leadership of the former Commerce & Employment Department in an attempt to replicate the success of a similar registry in the Isle of Man.

It sees the local registrar working in partnership with Amsterdam-headquartered SGI, which has long-established links with the global airline industry.

The latest figures show 283 aircraft registered, made up of 109 small planes – less then 5,700kg – and 174 larger aircraft. The earliest-registered plane is 2-KOOL, a Piper Cherokee registered in December 2013, while 58 of those currently on the register were first registered this year, of which 10 were registered in July.

The registry was planned to be a joint effort with Jersey originally until that island withdrew at the last minute in favour of a government-run operation. It has since found and then lost a third party associate, and currently shows one Cessna light aircraft with a current registration.

... but Economic Development wants it to look again at smaller planes

THE focus of 2-Reg, the Guernsey aircraft registry, is to continue to be re-examined as it secures its future.

The registry, launched in 2013, underwent a full review last year, which looked at its overall aims and objectives, its finances, and a strategy for future commercial growth.

It confirmed its two key objectives – for the registry to operate at zero cost to the States as a minimum, and to generate a direct profit and facilitate incremental GDP for the aviation sector and wider Guernsey economy.

The zero-cost position has been secured with strategic partner SGI Guernsey, which runs the registry and pays a dividend to the States, and its most recent trading year achieved a profit for the government.

Its overall value to the financial services sector was estimated at some £1.4m. in 2019, by a finance industry working group.

‘As 2-Reg grows, we see these figures increasing,’ said the Aviation Working Group.

‘It should also be borne in mind that this represents only what our businesses are generating. Accordingly, if our group comprised of all business affected by 2-Reg, it would mean that this figure would likely be substantially higher.’

In a briefing note for States members, Economic Development president Deputy Neil Inder said the office of the director of civil aviation, a role now to be taken on by John Nicholas, as announced this week, had been ‘stabilised’ and was operating well, while the aircraft registry was performing positively, though there was ‘more work to do’.

The two offices have been restructured to remove duplication of work and to implement a new management system, which was already providing ‘significant efficiencies’ and improved working practices with SGI.

Some of the issues being developed at the registry include re-focusing on the registration of light aircraft.

This was originally expected to be a 2-Reg priority, but was overtaken by a business stream of registering off-lease aircraft, including commercial jets.

Economic Development is to ask Mr Nicholas to review this sector as one of his first priorities, consulting with light aircraft owners too.

The registry team has also started work with Guernsey Finance and the States’ finance sector development team to find more opportunities in the aviation sector for tax, insurance or legal advisers.

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