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Open Skies policy could become a reality in Guernsey

Open Skies policy could become a reality in Guernsey

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Open Skies policy could become a reality in Guernsey

The current restrictive licensing system for airlines flying to and from Guernsey could be relaxed, meaning the island would adopt what is known as an "open skies policy."

The Committee for Economic Development is proposing a new air transport licensing policy framework that will be a significant step towards the more relaxed system - however, there are already criticisms that this will take too long and "open skies" should simply be adopted now.

The new framework, set out in a policy letter for consideration by the States Assembly at its meeting in July, "will provide a much clearer and simpler policy framework, which is intended to be the basis of introducing greater competition and new air routes," said a spokesman for the ED Committee. 

Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, Vice-President of the Committee for Economic Development also said:

"The proposed framework is built to achieve two strategic objectives. We are aiming to secure improved services for travellers to and from the Island, and to introduce new routes to and from Guernsey. In order to do that we need an air transport licensing regime that supports an ‘open skies’ approach on all but our two proposed ‘lifeline routes'.

"The Committee is continuing to work on new route development, and on the publicservice obligations that would be needed to support the proposed lifeline routes. The policy letter sets out the licensing framework within which that work will be done.

"We are confident as a Committee that it balances the need to set out a clearapproach with the requirement to ensure we have as much flexibility as possible in order to achieve those objectives.”


Pictured: Deputy Andrea Dudley Owen

The two lifeline routes proposed by the Committee are Guernsey to London Gatwick and Guernsey to Alderney. These are routes that are deemed economically and socially essential. Operators and charterers will continue to require a Guernsey air transport licence in order to provide flights on these specific routes. Operators or charterers serving all routes apart from lifeline routes will be exempt from the need to hold a Guernsey air transport licence.

The Committee for Economic Development will also work to establish a public service obligation– along with any necessary funding arrangement – for air services on the proposed lifeline routes, and it will continue to provide air route development support for other new routes that can be established.

While the Alderney-Southampton route is not subject to Guernsey air transport licensing – and therefore outside of the scope of the policy letter – ED said it may be considered for a public service obligation in combination with the Guernsey-Alderney route, "should such a combined approach be possible following the tender process, and subject to agreement between the States of Guernsey and the States of Alderney as to the source of funding for this route."

The Committee has said it will report back to the States by 2023 on the policy framework, "in order to ensure that it is delivering the Island’s economic and social objectives."

Deputy Joe Mooney, who is a member of the Committee for Economic Development, does not support the propositions in the policy letter however. He has said this work process will be too slow and a change to an open skies policy should be made now:

“While I am supportive of the Committee’s move towards an open skies approach, I would like to see that put in place straight away, across all routes. My view is that we should introduce full competition on all routes, including those deemed to be lifelineroutes. While I believe that is where we will end up, I’d like us to get there faster than we are doing at the moment.”

Joe Mooney

Pictured: Deputy Joe Mooney

The policy letter has included a period of consultation with operators, the Guernsey International Business Association and a number of different Committees of the States of Guernsey, as well as the States of Alderney.

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