Challenges for Aurigny on its 'path to profit'

AURIGNY yesterday unveiled an exciting new 'path to profit’, as two States committees delivered a joint policy letter proposing the latest recapitalisation of the airline alongside a new air policy framework, which sets out high level strategic objectives for ‘maintaining and developing air connectivity for the Bailiwick’.

Another recapitalisation will be met with regret and weary resignation, although there is no more ‘new money’ involved. Each year the States puts aside millions to cover Aurigny’s losses, and now it has been decided it is time, once again, to pay off the airline’s overdraft from the States.

Aurigny’s accumulated losses between 2015 and 2020, and projected losses for this year, total more than £70m., and for recapitalisation we’re talking £46.8m. for the period up to 2020 and a further £16m. or so to follow in 2021.

Which makes the ‘path to profit’ all the more crucial. For an airline which has not turned a profit since 2007 – yet always had some kind of cunning plan to reverse the financials in its back pocket – a realistic programme to make money, rather than lose it, is long overdue.

And the last time its owner attempted to set direction, that ended up going nowhere.

Aurigny’s new approach, then, sees a rationalisation of its fleet already from six aircraft types – and a maintenance bill more than double the industry average – to three, with further scope to take that down to a single type, ATR 72-600s.

The airline does its best to set out a relatively low-cost model, ‘reducing the average cost of air travel’ and working with the local tourism industry on 'value-based options to appeal to visitors’.

But Aurigny also notes, tactically, that while it wants to provide more options for local travellers, Guernsey already has more daily flights and available seats per working age resident than Jersey or the Isle of Man. But the island is stuck in the middle of Jersey and Alderney – a population size struggling to compete and attract scale, but all of us heavy on demands for services and cheap fares.

That is a challenge which Aurigny and the new air policy framework will have to overcome if it is to turn its finances around.

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