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Delayed Alderney airport tender could: “Increase the risk of a more serious runway failure”

Delayed Alderney airport tender could: “Increase the risk of a more serious runway failure”

Wednesday 03 April 2024

Delayed Alderney airport tender could: “Increase the risk of a more serious runway failure”

Wednesday 03 April 2024


The tender process for the refurbishment of Alderney’s airport is running several months behind schedule, with the latest update putting it in the ‘Value Engineering Period’ which was anticipated to be completed by the end of last year.

Guernsey Ports began the tender process in May 2023, after the States of Guernsey approved plans to fully refurbish the current runway in Alderney.

Nearly a year later and the infrastructure concerns raised by Alderney politicians and residents have only become more acute. 

"Can we actually wait? When does this [become] a dangerous situation -don't think we've actually got any more time to wait on this, I think we do really need to see action on this,” said Alderney representative Alex Snowdon. 

This is a key piece of infrastructure for the Bailiwick, and we do need to move forward... This is something that's deteriorating, and it's seriously deteriorating. 

"I would hate for either the runway to be closed or for a major incident to happen. That'd be dreadful, especially when we know it's in this state. 

And the amount of money that it's costing to keep patching it up is getting quite silly.” 

What needs to be done? 

The agreed refurbishment involves resurfacing, widening and extending the existing strip, which will enable larger aircraft to fly in and out of the island.  

The original price tag for this work was £24million and also included the refurbishment, or replacement, of the island’s terminal building and airport fire station. 

As it stands, the airport runway was resurfaced more than 20 years ago and hundreds of thousands of pounds has been spent patching up and remediating the deteriorating runway. 

In fact, when originally announcing the tender process, Guernsey Ports Chief Operating Officer, Ross Coppolo, hoped there wouldn’t be any delay. 

"By its nature, this is a long process, so it is vital that we start now so that we will be in a position to award a contract at the beginning of 2024, with a view to commencing work on site in spring next year. If we miss that window it could delay the project by up to a year, which would necessitate more extensive remedial works and increase the risk of a more serious runway failure." 

The original ‘anticipated procurement schedule’ was: 

Screenshot_2024-04-03_at_10.02.10.png

So where are we now? 

Concerns with the continued delay in the tender process were touched on recently by Deputy Mark Helyar during an interview on Riduna Radio: 

"We've had no news about that for quite some time... So, fingers crossed there'll be some developments coming shortly. But I don't think it's going to be good news personally. 

“There were some deputies who wanted to bring an amendment during one of the investment and budget plans last year and unfortunately... some of those deputies perhaps don't realise that if you're in the middle of a tender process, and politicians start to mess about with it, it tends to put people off.  

That leads to political uncertainty... soit's really unfortunate that those individuals tried to interfere with it, because I don't think it helped at all.” 

Express subsequently reached out to Guernsey Ports to get an update on the process. Mr Coppolo, said:  

“We are continuing to undertake a thorough assessment of all the various elements of the tender submissions, as well as exploring value engineering opportunities.  

“It is important that this is done thoroughly as the value engineering phase of the tender process will result in a 'best and final offer', which effectively becomes the tender price.  

“As this remains a live procurement process, we are unable to comment further until this phase of the project has been completed.” 

Alderney_runway.jpeg

Public Service Obligation 

Alderney’s airport infrastructure is a lifeline to the outside world, and this has been reflected in a subsidy by the States of guernsey of roughly £2million a year to support Aurigny’s service. 

This PSO (Public Service Obligation) expires at the end of 2025 and Deputy Helyar said during the same interview that if isn't replaced appropriately or at all, it “could put some of those services under even more pressure”. 

The development of the airport and the PSO are intrinsically tied, as a longer runway would reduce the stress on Aurigny and the costs associated with flying to the island.  

This could then lead to a cheaper PSO for the States of Guernsey. 

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