Guernsey Press

More lease options may be needed to keep Aurigny flying

Aurigny may need more planes to get back on track, the airline said yesterday, as it spoke about the incident where a leased aircraft overshot the runway on Tuesday night and came to rest in the grass.

The leased Luxwing Dash-8 which came to rest off the end of the runway.

The leased Luxwing aircraft is currently grounded as air accident investigators launch a serious incident investigation.

None of the 63 people and four crew on board the flight from Gatwick were injured and the plane was towed out of the way later in the evening.

Its crew remained in the island yesterday pending the arrival of the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

It confirmed it had sent a ‘multi-disciplinary team’ of inspectors.

Aurigny CEO Nico Bezuidenhout said that although there was no significant damage to the plane, a De Havilland Canada Dash 8, involved in Tuesday’s incident, there were mandatory checks needed.

‘We don’t know how long that investigation is going to take and for how long the aircraft will effectively be in quarantine,’ he said.

‘In the interim, my team is looking into the market for back-up capacity should it be required.’

The airline has leased three planes in recent weeks, as its Embraer jet expected to be sold by the end of the month.

Aurigny CEO Nico Bezuidenhout. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33173081)

But one of its ATRs has been held up in servicing since February, and the loss of the Dash caused more headaches for Aurigny, with a service to Manchester cancelled yesterday morning and two London City flights consolidated to help cover the aircraft shortfall.

Mr Bezuidenhout expected the missing ATR would finally return around 10 May, after which more aircraft would be sent for maintenance.

Aurigny is now leasing additional ATRs having dispensed with the jet and Mr Bezuidenhout said the first of these was due to arrive at the end of July.

Under the wet lease arrangement, the De Havilland Dash-8 had been operating locally since the start of April. Operator Luxwing provided aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance. It will be the focus of the AAIB investigation, with Aurigny playing a supporting role.

Some passengers had wondered about the experience of the pilot of landing at Guernsey airport.

‘Crews typically work on a 20-day on, 10-day off roster, so this crew would have had experience,’ said Mr Bezuidenhout.

He said he was grateful to the passengers.

‘The situation must have been quite unnerving as an experience and they have my sincere appreciation for their support and acceptance.’

He said Aurigny’s response centre activated immediately and he also paid tribute to the professional and swift way in which airport and emergency personnel acted.

‘The runway safety methods and the runway safety area served its purpose.

‘So while it is utterly regrettable, and I sincerely regret the impact on our passengers and anybody on board the aircraft, in the end, the systems and processes worked exactly as they were designed to.’