Airline hits back after criticism of ticket costs
AN airline which was lambasted by a minister for the price of its tickets has criticised the charges that are levied by the Airport.
Blue Islands has questioned whether Ports of Jersey should lower its passenger and security charges – which are included in the price of a ticket – following the comments from Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham, who has political oversight of the Island’s airlines.
Each arriving and departing traveller at the Airport is charged a £5.25 passenger charge and a £2.09 aviation security charge. The charges have remained the same since 27 March 2016.
After learning that a States Member was charged £201 for a one-way ticket from Southampton to Jersey recently, Senator Farnham described the cost as ‘extortionate’ and added that he was concerned about the level of service being offered by Blue Islands and Flybe.
The minister also told the Assembly that between 1 November and 22 January there had been 40 flight cancellations and 369 delays on routes to London City and Bristol – routes held exclusively by Blue Islands, which is the franchise partner of Flybe – as well as Southampton and inter-island routes, which are operated by both airlines.
Senator Farnham acknowledged that some of the delays and cancellations had been due to bad weather.
In response to the criticism, a Blue Islands spokesman said: ‘In 2017 Blue Islands operated 99 per cent of its scheduled services – excluding those cancelled due to weather – and 80 per cent of flights departed within 15 minutes of schedule. Toward the end of 2017, a number of independent and unforeseen technical issues, coupled with an unusually high amount of senior crew sickness, did impact the resilience of our scheduled services. Steps have been taken to fully restore the high standards of on-time performance.
‘Contrary to what was mentioned twice in the States, Blue Islands has no monopoly on the inter-island or Southampton route. The Jersey-to-Southampton route grew by 8,000 passengers between July and November 2017, and an extra 2,000 travelled on the Jersey to London City route in the second half of the year. Both representing an 11 per cent increase year on year.
‘The States of Jersey are sole shareholder of the Ports of Jersey, which recently announced nearly £10 million in profit for its first 15 months following incorporation. However, if driving this profit are charges ultimately passed onto the consumer, it has to be questioned whether Islanders really benefit from it.’
A Ports of Jersey spokesman said: ‘Ports of Jersey historically spends on average between £10 million and £12 million each year on capital investment in our infrastructure required to keep the Airport and the Harbour open, safe and secure.
‘Investment requirements going forward are high, and although great progress has already been made since incorporation of the business, Ports of Jersey is not yet generating a sufficient level of profitability to be fully financially self-sufficient – the principle aim of incorporation.
‘All cash required for investments at Ports of Jersey comes from commercial revenues and not from taxpayers. This fundamental principle therefore ensures the Island has the required facilities without transferring burden to taxpayers.’