Guernsey Press

Report comes out against longer runway

CONSULTANTS engaged by the States department responsible for the management of Guernsey Airport have come out against an extension to the island’s runway.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 31552839)

They said that extending it, at a cost of millions of pounds, to enable low fare carriers to operate into the islands, would have substantial knock-on costs.

‘Overall, it seems highly unlikely that the scale of any mainline services would be sufficient to justify extending the runway, nor would they bring the anticipated air fare benefits.’

The States’ Trading Supervisory Board has published the conclusions to a report it commissioned from UK aviation experts York Aviation in response to a written question from Yvonne Burford.

Runway extension opponent Deputy Yvonne Burford asked questions of the States' Trading Supervisory Board about the York Aviation report.(31552602)

It has also shared the findings with Economic Development, which is set to report back to the States on the runway issue in the next few months.

York Aviation said that based on performance seen in Jersey and the Isle of Man, and taking into account the discounts or support required to attract a low-cost carrier to operate into the island, the impact could actually worsen losses at the airport by £2-3m., and damage Aurigny and ferry travel.

Airport users could benefit from lower air fares, though this may be balanced by the loss of some routes and frequencies of services, but York Aviation said that the major beneficiaries would be islanders, which could lead to more off-island spending.

Aurigny would be hit as evidence suggested that much of the passenger traffic attracted to a low-cost carrier would be ‘cannibalised’ from existing air services and ferries.

It estimated that Aurigny could lose as much as £25m. in revenue year-on-year if the low-cost network grew.

In economic welfare terms, the analysis suggested that only the more optimistic assumptions would deliver a positive return to the States.

‘It seems highly unlikely that the benefits from incremental visitor numbers, having full regard to diversion from sea, would justify the true costs of accommodating low fare airlines,’ the consultants said.

‘We do not believe the business benefits could be realised without other interventions to change the path of the Guernsey economy.’

The report was commissioned in December 2021 and finished in August. It was intended to supplement an assessment of future passenger demand, being undertaken as part of the production of a Guernsey Airport masterplan.

Deputy Burford, who opposes the runway extension, is pushing Economic Development to return to the States for a decision on it before the States spends up to £24m. on extensions and improvements at Alderney Airport.

She said on Twitter: ‘The response confirms my long-held view that it makes no sense whatsoever. When will Economic Development bring their long-delayed policy letter so that we can finally throw this out, and stop wasting money on consultants?’

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