Competition watchdog to question Blue Islands/Flybe franchise

Flybe and Blue Islands are facing a series of questions over their franchise agreement and the impact it is having on passengers flying between Jersey and Guernsey.

The Channel Islands competition regulator has written an open letter, challenging the airlines' claim the deal is a 'benefit' to customers.

Flybe says it has received the letter and will respond in due course.

The regulator is warning that it may still review the franchise agreement on the only inter-island route, under the Jersey competition law.

The airlines made a number of promises before the franchise was agreed, which CICRA is questioning as follows;

  • ‘Passengers will benefit from seamless connections’ – how is Flybe/Blue Islands ensuring this when one in every four flights is delayed by more than 15 minutes?
  • ‘Lowest possible fare options’ – how is this consistent with pricing on the inter-island route and other Channel Island routes where Flybe/Blue Islands is the only operator and has removed the frequent traveller reward scheme?
  • Ticket customisation’ – how is this an additional benefit when the only customisation available on inter-island flights is the ability to reserve a seat? There are no non-changeable, hand baggage only fares.
  • ‘Time saving business travel’ – how is this consistent with the punctuality statistics quoted above and other reductions in service for business travellers, such as the removal of credit accounts so each flight has to be booked and paid for as a separate transaction?

Michael O'Higgins, from CICRA, further explained the concerns...