Blue Islands boss 'poised and ready' to reinstate previous routes when pandemic allows

Rob Veron, who has been CEO of the airline for over a decade Credit: ITV Channel TV

The boss of regional airline Blue Islands says his company is looking to re-establish routes it previously operated prior to the pandemic.

The airline is currently operating some lifeline services for the Channel Islands.

Rob Veron, who has been CEO of the airline for over a decade, said the last year has been "immensely difficult" but said the company would still be able to continue operating lifeline services to and from Jersey and Guernsey.

Our reporter Hamish Auskerry sat down with him to get the latest on how the company was faring.

After a very difficult 2020, how has this winter been for the company so far?

"I think it's fair to say it's been a challenging year since March. Volumes have diminished substantially but what we have done is we've been using that time we've been rebuilding the business so it's a case of making sure we're in good shape as and when the vaccine programmes rolled out. And we can get back to doing what we love doing, so it's been a very quiet winter, as we as we would expect and it has it has been for carriers."

Can you put a figure on how much financial impact that's had on the company?

"I think it's fair to say that the single digit percentages [of prior passenger volumes] you can only assume what that does to a business so it's about building out the business and being in good shape to come out of this on the other side."

In Guernsey, the essential-only travel policy is back. Has that been a blow and how long can you continue with the border policy the way it is here?

 "We take seriously our role in the community and that's carrying those essential passengers so I think what what we would say is that the border restrictions are very much a matter for government and each island and we are working closely with both islands in terms of continually being updated as to what the sort of evolving processes might look like."

Let's go back to last March, just put us in the mind of an airline CEO, how you are coping with those big decisions about people's jobs as well as your own company. And how did you deal with that?

"Off the back of Flybe collapsing we geared up our own systems, we knew it was time to reemerge as brand Blue Islands. Subsequently, when the pandemic struck, we also had this sort of time while the activity levels were low so we were just conserving cash and resources as best as possible, and taking the business into as dormant a state where we could still fulfil our role in providing essential services, but mitigate much of the cost and conserve cash and that's what we've done."

What can we expect this year, will we see an expansion of routes for example?

"We're currently planning to relaunch the programme to the destinations that we've historically operated, we're poised and ready to respond just as and when the time is right to do so and we see the vaccine sufficiently rolled out that we're seeing demands return so we're, we're there and ready to switch the full network back on. We're not looking at new destinations at this stage but as always we're considering consumers' wants. And again, if there are unserved destinations as we emerge from this, then of course we would look to provide those. But at the moment we're very much looking at providing or putting back in place, the schedule will be previously operated."