The States' committee responsible for the Bailiwick's ports is close to unveiling recommendations for a multi-million pound upgrade of Alderney's airport runway.
The States' Trading Supervisory Board is assessing three possible options. Two of the options include widening the runway and a third option would make the runway longer.
Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the Board, said last night that "the runway's days of being repaired really are behind it, although we did it once more this past summer".
"Within the next few weeks, we should be in a position to identify what we believe to be the optimum solution and we hope then to be able to make a trip to Alderney and provide some detailed presentations to the public," said Deputy Roffey.
Pictured: Deputy Peter Roffey, President of the States' Trading Supervisory Board, which expects to decide in the next few weeks which of three options it will recommend to improve the runway at Alderney Airport at a cost of several million pounds.
On Thursday, Deputy Roffey's Board presented its research so far to Alderney's States' members and Chamber of Commerce. Aurigny's Chief Executive Nico Bezuidenhout was also present.
The presentation encouraged the Chairman of the Policy & Finance Committee, which is Alderney's senior committee. "The Committee is very impressed with the amount and quality of the research work being undertaken by the project team in Guernsey to obtain all the necessary information for the States of Deliberation to be able to make the optimal decision in the overall interest of both islands," said Bill Abel.
Mr Abel said that rehabilitating Alderney's runway is "one of the most important current matters for the future of our community". He is looking forward to public presentations of the Board's recommendations early in 2022.
"We eagerly await the conclusion of this work, when engagement with the community here will follow, before any final decisions are taken in Guernsey," said Mr Abel.
Another Alderney States' member, Alex Snowdon, who also represents Alderney in the States in Guernsey, said the Board's presentation was "excellent...with vast amounts of detail". Mr Snowdon hopes the Board recommends extending the length of the runway, which should allow Aurigny's ATR-72s and other aircraft of similar size to operate to and from Alderney whereas Aurigny is currently using smaller Dornier aircraft.
Pictured: Supporters of lengthening the runway in Alderney believe that one of the major advantages would be opening up the island to ATR-72 aircraft and other aircraft of a similar size.
"I look forward to hearing more about the potential runway options, including runway extension, which would synchronise the thinking around Aurigny's strategy of fleet simplification using the ATR, in order hopefully to reduce losses considerably in the future," said Mr Snowdon.
"If the extension option is chosen, I feel this would future-proof the island and hopefully resolve the medevac situation. The current Public Service Obligation gives confidence to our community and now is the time we must plan for the future delivery of air services."
Mr Snowdon said that "engaging with the public needs to be a high priority", including "explaining to the public how expensive Dornier planes would be to keep on providing services".
"We need to decide on the way forward swiftly due to the limited lifespan of the current runway with tarmac running very thin on the ground."
Pictured: Alex Snowdon, a member of the States in Alderney and an Alderney Representative in the States in Guernsey, is optimistic that the States' Trading Supervisory Board will propose extending the length of Alderney's runway.
Two of the options under consideration would widen the runway, fully rehabilitate the surface of the existing runway and improve drainage and lighting. The third option would lengthen the runway to the west and improve other aspects of the airport's infrastructure.
"We fully appreciate the importance of this project to the people of Alderney, given the island’s reliance on its lifeline airlinks," said Deputy Roffey.
"A project of this nature is very complex and will involve significant but much-needed capital investment, which the States of Guernsey have already given a commitment to.
"The project team has been progressing the detailed planning and design, which inevitably is taking some time, but it is important that we ensure we identify the solution that best meets the needs of the Bailiwick and delivers best value.”
Three years ago, the States identified that rehabilitating Alderney's runway to a standard then considered necessary could cost more than £12million.
The Board is expected to announce the latest proposals early in the New Year.
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