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Guernsey should be proud to have its own airline

Voices | Published:

The recent negativity surrounding Aurigny is unfair and could create a self-fulfilling prophecy, says the airline’s PR manager Jess Mauger

I HAVE worked in the media and PR in Guernsey for over 15 years and have never seen or experienced such interest in any other business that Aurigny has of late.

Yes, it is a States-owned operation, and yes, it requires funding, and in that case we are under the scrutiny of the taxpayers, however the attention, in my opinion, is disproportionate given the service it provides and the value it delivers to the islands.

I have frequent media enquiries about the minutia of our operations and the constant highlighting of some of these ends up losing your own airline money.

We shoot ourselves in the foot!

With negative headlines surrounding the Budget and coverage in all the media of the predicted losses Aurigny suffered greatly with sales. When Deputy Inder and Paint issued their subsequently withdrawn amendment to the Budget suggesting the immediate withdrawal of Jersey and Southampton, what do you think happened to Aurigny sales? They halted of course. The media attention of this was extensive with TV and tabloid headlines, yet when it was withdrawn less than a week later it was not given the same attention. The media have deeply affected public confidence and sales and for no good reason.

Jess Mauger. (26346619)

Why is it fashionable to criticise our own airline?

Deputy Brehaut justifiably asked last week: ‘why is it fashionable to criticise Aurigny?’ It has become something of an enigma where the public are seemingly being sucked into the media reporting of every single detail of the airline operation and in the age of social media everyone seems to claim to know how to run an airline and what and who are to blame for Aurigny’s losses.

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Aurigny is delivering what it is supposed to

However, Aurigny has nothing to be blamed for. The revised budget including the new deficit has been approved. An efficiency review has been undertaken and supported the way Aurigny is run and managed. Aurigny is delivering the service it has been asked to provide and is instructed to do so by the States of Guernsey (its shareholders). It runs daily services off the island for the benefit of the majority. It is a key economic enabler.

The only certainty is Aurigny

In an industry where more than 22 airlines have gone out of business this year, including names like Flybmi, Thomas Cook, Germainia and WOW, we have protected our lifeline routes and should be proud to own our airline. In fact, other links off the island may have disappeared this year had Virgin Connect not bought out Flybe, who were just hours away from going out of business. In this instance there is still uncertainty as to how the newly-named airline will operate and schedules from April onwards have still yet to be released.

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Other airlines have been subsidised by the States and have taken customers away from Aurigny and others have attempted predatory price wars and PR campaigns to try and force Aurigny off routes. However, Aurigny are a constant and committed to delivering connectivity to Guernsey. The only driver for Aurigny is to serve the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

You can depend on Aurigny

Every now and then we get a little bit of good PR, often when challenges come our way, the drone attack at Gatwick, fog and Thomas Cook going bust, to name a few.

Aurigny is able to adapt its operations and services to ensure (where possible) it can get you where you expect to be. Aurigny often pays to keep the airport open and its staff work late to finish flight schedules. During the Gatwick drone incident, Aurigny was able to modify its operation and redeploy all its flights to and from Southampton.

The recent investment in new ATR aircraft is aimed at further improving the reliability of the island air services. This is the airline we should remember and be proud of and these are the staff we should be thinking of before we become keyboard warriors or media informants.

The staff deliver a great service

Think about the 300-plus staff who work for Aurigny, many of them local and passionate about their jobs and the service they deliver each day. Imagine how it feels to work in a business where everyday you are the subject of negative media attention, social media abuse and factually incorrect self-appointed ‘expert’ commentators.

These staff deliver a great service.

Aurigny is not just an airline to be proud of, it has its own engineering company and its own ground handling operation, which have teams in Guernsey, Southampton, Alderney and Gatwick and handle many other airlines’ contracts.

Support YOUR airline

I am genuinely concerned that if people continue to jump on the ‘hate Aurigny’ bandwagon, then it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy and if a trimmed down or changed operation were to come into effect, I believe the media would be filled, very shortly, with articles harping back to the ‘good old days’ of when we owned and ran our own airline for the good of the people and were proud of it.

Let’s stop biting the hand that feeds us and support our own airline.

What will help Aurigny to succeed?

Aurigny has not lost its old-fashioned values and is still a dependable airline offering the community a service it should treasure.

Just because a company is owned by the States does not mean you have to dislike it, especially when there is much to love about Aurigny.

I know the silent majority feel the same as me when flying back to the island via Aurigny. As soon as you enter the aircraft you feel at home. Our experienced crew are familiar faces and names, and the service and journey is local and trusted.

Let’s get behind our airline, support it and the dedicated staff who run it. Every pound spent with Aurigny is a pound in your pocket.

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