Guernsey Press

Support Aurigny, urges former Loganair CEO

A former chief executive of the UK’s largest regional airline has called for support and understanding for Aurigny, as it deals with problems affecting the entire airline industry.

Last updated
Jonathan Hinkles spent nearly eight years at the helm of Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline. (33114600)

Jonathan Hinkles, who spent almost eight years in charge of Loganair before stepping down in January, has also warned in a letter published in the Guernsey Press that the introduction of a low-fare airline into the island would cause huge, long-term ramifications for the island’s air connectivity.

Mr Hinkles said he had been compelled to write his letter because of his sympathy towards the ‘difficult’ position Aurigny found itself in.

‘I know how hard it can be for those involved to speak candidly about what they actually have to contend with,’ he said.

‘As someone with a reasonable level of experience in this sector I thought by speaking out I could lend some perspective.’

He said that Aurigny was already doing everything it needed to in terms of coping with the current issues, adding that he was not seeking to work with the company in any official capacity.

‘Aurigny already has capable and competent management, it simply finds itself in the same position as everyone else.’

Mr Hinkles outlined in his letter that one of the main issues for airlines was the closure of large workshops to repair key aircraft components.

This, he said, had caused huge backlogs and had subsequently created havoc.

One of Aurigny’s ATRs has been out of action since mid-February, and was last recorded flying to Dinard for maintenance. To ensure its routes are covered, Aurigny has recently leased a number of aircraft.

Mr Hinkles said that aircraft downtime for maintenance and day-to-day operational issues often now extended from days to weeks and months, which was why airlines were struggling to maintain schedules.

‘Airlines do everything they can to run flights on time, it’s the most cost-effective way to operate, and it keeps customers happy,’ he said.

‘No-one benefits from delays and cancellations, but sometimes – despite all endeavours – they can and do happen.

‘Against that background, it’s risible for some commentators to call for guarantees that flight disruption will be eradicated, and it’s just as impossible for an airline chief to give such a warranty as it is plainly daft for anyone to demand it.’

He said that, as a result of these issues, Guernsey should be cautious about trying to encourage airlines such as EasyJet to the island, as low-cost carriers tend to only offer flights in high season rather than year-round connectivity.

‘The two concepts don’t sit comfortably together,’ he said.

‘Bluntly put, if an incoming low-cost airline runs off with the summer profits, your local airline will need an unprecedented level of financial support from the States to keep even a skeletal essential air service open through the leaner winter months.’

He said that the range and frequency of services the island currently enjoyed would suffer if low-cost carriers were cleared to land in Guernsey.

He added that tickets bought from a local airline directly maintained jobs in the local community for pilots, cabin crew, engineers and ground staff, and this benefitted Guernsey.

‘Strong regional airlines with the community’s interests at heart, aircraft and crews based locally, and offering a broad range of year-round services, are essential ingredients for island connectivity,’ he said.

‘Upset that equilibrium by lobbing a low-fare airline into the mix, and the long-term ramifications for the islands’ air connectivity will be huge.’