THE managing director of an air-freight-handling company has launched a petition calling on the government to keep the Island’s daily mail plane running.
Christopher Bee, of OceanAir Handling, said he feared that if the service was lost, his business could be forced to close while Jersey’s ‘already fragile economy could be jeopardised’ because of the impact on logistics.
Mr Bee said his company had been responsible for managing the Island’s air cargo for nearly 35 years, handling all items transported by commercial or charter aircraft.
The mail plane brings between five and seven tonnes of post to the Island each day. However, as part of a strategy to ‘simplify and update’ its operation, Royal Mail has proposed replacing the daily flights with a ferry service. The organisation argues that this would offer a more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly option.
The proposed change would probably result in an extra working day being added to delivery times, with the service being further affected by adverse weather conditions.
While Royal Mail is bound by Ofcom regulations to offer a next-day delivery service, the company has proposed a change to Jersey’s ‘due date’ definition to allow an extra working day for packages to arrive in the Channel Islands.
Mr Bee warned that should the mail plane be terminated, OceanAir’s operations would be left ‘economically unviable’, leaving the Island without any air-freight handling.
This, he said, would mean ‘there will be no way of anything getting off this Island in less than two days’.
The knock-on effects of this, he stated, ‘will be far greater than the cost of the mail plane’.
He said: ‘Our infrastructure is incredibly delicate. Many aren’t aware of the silent services we deliver, from managing mail and courier flights to transporting medical equipment and blood transfusions. We relocate your pets globally and even handle the repatriation of human remains.’
He added: ‘Our business landscape, heavily reliant on punctual, efficient logistics, stands on the brink of disaster. Slow and inconsistent deliveries will undoubtedly undermine businesses, hinder growth and jeopardise our already fragile economy.
‘Our air-freight infrastructure is not simply about transport – it underpins the heartbeat of Jersey’s commerce.’
Last week, Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel announced that, as part of the consultation process, he would write to Royal Mail to convey the concerns of local businesses.
He said: ‘I am satisfied that Jersey Post understands the likely impacts of these decisions on the local economy and that the company is now actively working with the sector to minimise any disruption to its customers.’
The Royal Mail consultation runs until Friday. Any changes will take effect on 3 August.