Campaigners slam Guernsey airline Aurigny for 'exorbitant fares' and 'substandard services'

Guernsey Aviation Action Group claim the island's airline Aurigny cannot provide affordable and reliable connectivity. Credit: ITV Channel

Campaigners in Guernsey say the cost of Aurigny's airfares and the number of flight delays are "a shambles and a disgrace".

In a highly critical open letter about the government-owned company, the island's Aviation Action Group (GAAG) stated: "This is an unacceptable situation and one that cannot be allowed to continue before it does irreparable damage to our economy.

"As an island, we are totally reliant on affordable and reliable connectivity and it is now quite plain to see that Aurigny cannot provide this essential service."

The group has been very vocal for years about the benefits of extending Guernsey's runway which it says would cost £21 million that could be paid for through a visitor's levy and lead to greater competition with lower passenger fares.

It added: "We cannot continue to allow our economy to be strangled and the good Guernsey public held to ransom.

"GAAG calls for the debate on an extended runway to be urgently revisited."

A 2023 government study found the cost would be much higher than the group's figure, estimating an outlay of £79 million with up to an extra £23 million to improve the terminal building so that it can cope with more passengers.

The report concluded the economic benefits to the island from increased tourism could be £109 million across 40 years.

Aurigny has previously defended the cost of its flights following criticism from the island's Hospitality Association.

In early March, the airline apologised for "significant disruption" to journeys, underlining that addressing it is their "top priority".

Responding to the GAAG's letter, the company's Chief Commercial Officer Sudeep Ghai said: "I can assure you that behind the scenes the Aurigny team is 100% dedicated to addressing recent challenges and maintaining schedule integrity for our customers.

"Aurigny is an airline for a small island, this is not directly comparable to larger commercial airlines and different operating environments. We are not immune to the cost pressures our customers are facing or the disproportionate impact of global supply chain challenges that most small businesses face.

"Our flight schedule has been impacted in recent weeks because of unforeseen technical challenges affecting multiple aircraft during our winter maintenance programme. The weather did not help and illness affected the crews of partner airlines we contracted to secure our flying program.

"It's been a difficult few weeks but things will get better."