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States of Guernsey must offer Aurigny 'clear guidance'

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image captionThe States-owned airline is expected to lose £38m in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic

The States of Guernsey must offer Aurigny "clear guidance" on what it wants for the States-owned airline, outgoing CEO Mark Darby has said.

Mr Darby, who stands down in December, said the company's value to the bailiwick is "often unrecognised".

Aurigny is projected to lose a total of £38m in 2020 and 2021 as a result of Covid-19, according to the 2021 budget.

A deputy said the States had started discussions with Aurigny about offering them a "strategic objective".

The issue of profitability at the airline pre-dates the pandemic as it lost nearly £10m in 2019.

The 2021 expected loss of £14m does not include the Alderney route, which has historically been given as a reason for Aurigny's unprofitability.

As well as the losses during the pandemic, which will be covered by taxpayers, the firm also received government financial support through the island's furlough scheme.

Mr Darby, who will be replaced by Nico Bezuidenhout, emphasised the airline's current role in maintaining lifeline links between the islands and Southampton.

He added the "value for money" offered to Guernsey was "often unrecognised".

image copyrightJonathan Le Ray
image captionThe airline has been described as an "economic enabler" by Guernsey politicians

Mr Darby said: "Clearly going forward the States needs to think carefully about what it wants Aurigny to be."

He explained that while the company has been asked to be an "economic enabler", this has not been clearly defined by politicians, and he hoped his successor would receive "clear guidance" from the States.

Deputy Mark Helyar, treasury lead for the Policy and Resources Committee, acknowledged the airline was "undoubtedly an important strategic asset".

However, he emphasised its "losses are not sustainable" and the States must determine the extent of support provided.

Mr Helyar said he would like to see estimated losses fall which will "require some consolidation, consideration of the fleet and so on", but acknowledged these were "matters for the board".

The deputy added the States had begun discussions with Aurigny about offering them a "strategic objective" for the first time.

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  • States of Guernsey

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