An Alderney politician who represents his island in the States in Guernsey says proposals to refurbish and extend Alderney’s runway “feel like a win-win situation” and should quickly be supported by deputies.
The States’ Trading Supervisory Board and the Policy & Resources Committee will jointly ask the States’ Assembly to revisit a £12m project agreed in 2019 and double the budget to £24m for a much larger scheme. The expanded scheme would see the runway extended by at least 170 metres, as well as widened and refurbished, and a new terminal building constructed to replace the current one built in 1968.
The Board and a majority of the Committee argue that their expanded scheme would boost Alderney’s economy and save taxpayers money in the long term by allowing Aurigny to operate larger aircraft in Alderney and streamline its flet. They hope the project – known as ‘Option C+’ would be finished by the summer of 2025.
The Committee is split three to two in favour of the expanded scheme with Deputies Heidi Soulsby and Jonathan Le Tocq opposed. Alderney Representative Alex Snowdon, pictured (top), hopes that will not prevent a majority of deputies from backing the expanded scheme when they debate it before the end of the year.
“The airport refurbishment and extension project are absolutely essential to future-proofing the island and importantly reducing aviation costs and, therefore, saving money in the medium and long term,” Mr Snowdon told Express.
Pictured: The public was recently invited to view Alderney's runway and understand more about the proposals to refurbish and extend it.
Aurigny has suggested that it may be ready to remove the largest and smallest aircraft in its fleet – the Embraer jet, which flies the Guernsey-Gatwick route, and Dorniers, which serve Alderney – and instead focus on operating ATRs.
Extending Alderney’s runway as well as refurbishing and widening it would allow Aurigny to replace Dorniers with ATRs. The Board and the Committee calculate that this could save about £800,000 from an annual subsidy of around £2million known as the public service obligation (PSO) and they have put this estimated saving at the centre of their revised runway proposals.
Mr Snowdon said that Alderney is “currently limited due to the short runway being usable only by small planes which are costly to run” but that extending the runway would “create alternatives for future delivery of air services, making more options available”.
“The islands are in close partnership, Guernsey and Alderney being in a fiscal union together. The joint proposals being put forward…help towards addressing the squeeze on public funds by reducing the current £2m per year costs of the PSO, which uses two Dornier planes.
“It is key to note that average losses between 2015 and 2019 on Alderney services ran at a staggering £3m per year with Dornier aircraft serving the island. The figures demonstrate the need to move quickly to a more cost-effective service…reducing the costs to the taxpayer and at the same time giving confidence to our business community and local residents and vastly increasing route capacity for tourism.”
Pictured: Extending Alderney's runway would allow Aurigny to serve the island with ATR aircraft and rationalise its fleet by removing Dorniers.
Mr Snowdon said that recent encouraging developments in Alderney’s economy underlined the need for improving and extending the runway and air links.
“The key driver now is savings achieved under the proposal, which will save money for Bailiwick taxpayers. In turn, this also enhances economic development within our Bailiwick, opening the door for opportunities to strengthen our economy.
“Recently, we have seen hospitality taking off on the island, largely due to staycation tourists discovering the island. Braye Beach Hotel has been taken over, there is serious investment into the Blonde Hedgehog and the Georgian House is run off its feet trying to catch up with demand.
“On the business side, companies such as PwC…are expanding in Alderney, on top of existing trust management and Aldeney's renowned Gambling Control Commission. Additionally, Ravenscroft has just started running an office on the island and Polygon is supporting major events on Alderney. In order to grow the economy further and create new jobs on the island, [we] need the reassurance of reliable air services.
“We are interlinked with Guernsey, meaning we must work in partnership with each other. This project really feels like a win-win situation for everyone.”
Pictured: The deputies who sit on the States' Trading Supervisory Board - (l to r) Charles Parkinson, Peter Roffey and Nick Moakes - are all in favour of doubling the project costs to extend Alderney's runway, but the Policy & Resources Committee is split three to two on the proposals.
If deputies agree to the proposals, the two islands’ States will discuss how to fund the additional projects costs of around £12m on top of a similar sum allocated in the previous States’ term.
The Chairman of Alderney’s Policy & Finance Committee, Ian Carter, backed the expanded scheme and said his Committee would happily explore funding options with politicians in Guernsey.
“The Policy & Finance Committee believes that the airport rehabilitation project is the most important Alderney infrastructure project to be considered since the breakwater in the 19th century and the eventual outcome will have a material effect on how Alderney develops in the decades ahead in terms of its level and rate of economic recovery,” said Mr Carter.
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