Guernsey to debate protection for Aurigny Gatwick route

Mock up of how Embraer jet would look in Aurigny colours Guernsey's licensing authority may have to consider the effect on Aurigny of letting Easyjet ply the route

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Guernsey's States-owned airline Aurigny may be protected from competition, if proposals from the island's treasury minister are approved.

Deputy Gavin St Pier is seeking changes to the policies followed by Guernsey's air route licensing authority in relation to the Gatwick route.

In July, the States agreed to act as guarantor to allow Aurigny to buy a new jet for approximately £25m.

This was despite concern that Easyjet was considering competing on the route.

The commitment by Aurigny to buy a 122-seat Embraer 195 jet in time for next summer followed an announcement by Flybe that it was selling its Gatwick slots to Easyjet and would stop using the route from March.

This prompted fears that Aurigny alone would not be able to meet demand for seats, in the event that Easyjet chose not to ply the route.

'Wider strategy'
Deputy Gavin St Pier Deputy Gavin St Pier said he was focussing on "the wider strategic considerations for the island"

In September, Easyjet applied for a licence to fly between Guernsey and Gatwick and Deputy St Pier now wants Aurigny's investment to be taken into account when that application is considered by the Commerce and Employment Department's Air Transport Licensing panel.

He also wants "the level and reliability of service" provided by "incumbent operators" to be considered, along with "the likely effects on those operators of granting an application".

He said the department had "focused on the wider strategic considerations for the island" when drafting the proposal.

A spokesman for Easyjet said: "This proposal will be taken into account as we continue to evaluate the potential to operate flights to and from Guernsey."

Nobody at Aurigny was available to comment.

The States will debate the policy adjustment at their meeting on 29 October.

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