Back-up aircraft for Alderney ‘would be 30,000 euros a day’
PROVIDING a back-up aircraft for Aurigny’s reduced Dornier fleet this year would cost around 30,000 euros per day, Alderney politicians have been told by the States of Guernsey.
Alderney is already feeling the effects of Aurigny’s reduced summer flight schedule direct to Southampton. The peak season is showing significant periods where UK flights from Alderney are sold out or very expensive for tourists and islanders.
From the end of the month Aurigny is operating the island’s timetable with only one plane and one crew operating at any one time. The result is only two return flights per day to Southampton during the week – a reduction of 4,400 seats on that route this summer compared with last year.
Alderney Week, which begins on 1 August, traditionally sees the population of the island double and it is when most businesses earn the money that sees them through the winter.
Now, all direct flights Southampton to Alderney for a five-day stretch from Thursday 30 July until August 4 are sold out. There is patchy availability from July 22 to Alderney Week, and from 4 August until 15 August, but the majority of seats cost £153.99 one-way.
In the return direction, to Southampton, all flights from 8-12 August are sold out.
Aurigny has upped the number of flights from Alderney to Guernsey during the summer, resulting in an extra 4,200 seats.
Businesses have told Alderney’s Chamber of Commerce that it would mean staying a night in Guernsey or the UK for morning appointments and holiday makers would very likely be put off. There are grave concerns about Aurigny’s ability to catch up after spells of bad weather or when neither plane is operational.
Policy and Finance Committee chairman James Dent said the States of Alderney had been consistently pressing for extra capacity since the new timetable was unveiled.
‘Our two Alderney representatives have asked written and verbal questions in the States of Guernsey,’ he said.
‘Peter Ferbrache, the president of the States’ Trading Supervisory Board, has replied that the wet-lease of a Dornier would cost 30,000 euros per day, or over 6m. euros for a whole summer season. The president did not answer why alternatives to either a wet-leased Dornier (or re-winging their third Dornier) were not considered, noting that his hands were tied pending the outcome of the PSO process. We note, however, that with 6m. euros the STSB could have bought a fleet of Islanders.’
He said that an apology by Deputy Ferbrache in the States of Guernsey to the people of Alderney was cold comfort.
‘I have written letters to the president of Policy & Resources and to the president of STSB, but have received no useful replies,’ he said.
‘I have also tried to meet formally with the president [of] P&R. Informally, he has explained that P&R has yet to come to a conclusion in regard to the PSO.’
The available NG Dornier fleet will be reduced to two when G-Longis has to be retired from service to await a wing replacement. The States-owned operator has said that it will not make a decision on rewinging the aircraft until the outcome of the public service agreement is known.