Guernsey Press

Runway plan would kill off extension

HANDING a runway extension to the States’ Trading Supervisory Board would kill off the idea for good, its president claimed yesterday.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 32273536)

Economic Development has published a lengthy study of the pros and cons of an extension and is asking deputies to direct the STSB to reconsider the issue in the next few years.

But STSB president Peter Roffey warned that his board would be unlikely ever to recommend extending the runway – and he thinks the issue should be handed to a different committee.

‘If States members are passing this issue to STSB, they need to do that with their eyes wide open,’ said Deputy Roffey.

‘We would need to look at it only from the perspective of whether it stacked up commercially for the ports, rather than the potential wider economic benefits. I find it hard to conceive it ever stacking up commercially for the ports.

‘We’d spend millions to extend the runway and almost certainly end up with less revenue for the ports. It would make the current losses even worse. At the moment, for the ports, there is absolutely no commercial case whatsoever for extending the runway.’

Deputy Roffey claimed Economic Development was ‘trying to say no to a runway extension without actually saying no’.

But if the States insists on keeping the debate going, he said it should hand the issue to Environment & Infrastructure, which is responsible for infrastructure policy.

Economic Development’s cost-benefit study concluded that extending the length of the runway could cut fares and increase passengers but the cost would be more than £100m. and the finances of the airport and Aurigny would suffer. The committee said this meant it was ‘neither the day nor the hour’ to go ahead with the project.

Long-time extension critic Deputy Yvonne Burford said yesterday that she was hopeful the idea would not be revived again.

‘I am very disappointed that it has taken extensive civil service time and over £300,000 of public money spent on consultants to come to conclusions that were obvious to many from the start, and which I discussed in a 2017 article for the Guernsey Press,’ she said.

‘A low-cost carrier would not want to pay airport fees, so we would lose significant airport income which would have to be covered by the taxpayer.

‘The frequency of flights would fall. Fares would be unlikely to stay low due to lack of competition. There likely would not be red-eye flights or the same commitment to getting people home at night as aircraft would not be based here.

‘And to achieve all this we would have to pay £100m. that could be much better spent elsewhere.’