This week, Guernsey’s states-owned airline, announced that it was to once again begin flying between the islands after pulling out of the route around five years ago – owing to overcapacity.
It has since been revealed that there has been a 40,000 drop [27 per cent] in the number of passengers flying between the islands, compared to 2013.
However, Aurigny said that they will be offering a streamlined version of their previous service – with no weekend or midday flights – and are confident they can recover some of the lost passenger numbers.
But, in a statement, a spokesman for Blue Islands said that it was difficult to understand the commercial rationale behind relaunching the flights.
‘Having operated these routes for many years, Blue Islands is in the privileged position to understand these markets and the commercial challenges each faces. Capacity is certainly not a limiting factor in either market,’ he said.
‘Blue Islands currently operates up to ten flights per day between Guernsey and Jersey, with 77,000 seats flying empty in 2018 – almost half of the capacity operated by Blue Islands. This is in addition to any surplus capacity offered on Flybe-operated services.
‘The introduction of two additional flights in each direction from Monday to Friday on a 48-seat aircraft represents some 50,000 additional seats to the existing surplus.’
The spokesman added that the relaunch had come as a ‘surprise’ and also questioned whether an increase in capacity and choice on the route would lead to a sustainable drop in prices.
‘The challenge is striking a balance that allows the service provider to, at the very least, cover their costs,’ he said.
‘With high operating costs on both routes and an inherently limited island market, reducing fares in order to stimulate additional sales incurs greater losses as both Blue Islands and Aurigny have previously stated.
‘In our view, the oversupply of capacity – and associated losses – will once again prove to be unsustainable, most likely resulting in further taxpayer subsidy of Aurigny.’
Aurigny is due to begin flying between Jersey and Guernsey from May.