Travel routes in and out of Jersey slashed as risk ratings change

OPTIONS for travel are diminishing as the effect of changes to Jersey’s risk classifications begins to bite.

Picture: JON GUEGAN. (29398175)
Picture: JON GUEGAN. (29398175)

Large swathes of the UK, France and Ireland will move up to amber or red status this weekend, impacting those who had intended to travel during the forthcoming half-term break.

Airlines and Condor Ferries have said they are doing as much as possible to maintain connections to Jersey, but services are already being affected.

All fast-ferry services to the UK during November have been cancelled by Condor, although the company has pledged to help Islanders fulfil plans to travel around Christmas.

Changes to the classification of regions and countries were announced earlier this week and are due to come into force on Saturday, with the half-term holiday starting a week later on 24 October. Once those classifications come into effect only 23 of 316 English regions will be ranked as green.

More than half of England’s population – 31 million people in 158 regions – will be classified as living in red zones, with a further 135 regions, home to 21 million people, having amber status.

External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said on Tuesday that the Island was facing a situation where a partial closure of the borders would occur ‘by default’ as providers withdrew services in the face of declining passenger numbers.

Condor chief executive Paul Luxon said: ‘We have reviewed our schedule, and sadly are left with no option but to cancel all Poole services [to and from Jersey and Guernsey] in November, as we are simply not able to run ships at a fraction of normal capacity.’

Passengers travelling between the UK and Jersey from 6 November to 3 December are being switched to the Commodore Clipper service from Portsmouth.

Condor has confirmed that a Poole-to-Jersey-and-Guernsey sailing will run on Friday 4 December to ensure local students at UK universities and colleges are able to return to the Islands for Christmas and also pledged to maintain services over the festive period.

Mr Luxon added: ‘We remain committed to bringing students home so they can be with their families and also to supporting Islanders who are booked to travel away over Christmas and New Year.’

Paul Simmons, director of Blue Islands, said the airline hoped to maintain as many links as possible.

‘We expected changes this week and have been keeping a very close eye on the situation,’ he said. ‘We hope to carry on with business as usual, but we are subject to events – the same as everyone else in the world.’

Dwindling passenger numbers have been seen on some Blue Islands flights, with one Islander reporting that a flight to Birmingham last Wednesday had just 17 passengers, with 12 people aboard the return leg on Monday.

Easyjet looks likely to be operating just two regular routes to Jersey – Gatwick and Liverpool – between the end of October and 19 December, when the schedule is set to increase. A spokesperson said: ‘We continue to operate as many flights as possible but, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we are continuing to monitor demand and adjust our flight schedule.’

Easyjet’s Gatwick service is operating four days per week, but the airline has cut the number of flights on Fridays and Sundays from two to one for the two-week period starting 6 November.

British Airways, which is currently operating several flights to Heathrow every day, did not respond to a JEP request about the impact of this week’s changes.

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