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Deputies vote to continue looking into Guernsey runway extension

Deputies vote to continue looking into Guernsey runway extension

Friday 16 December 2022

Deputies vote to continue looking into Guernsey runway extension

Friday 16 December 2022

Politicians who oppose extending Guernsey's runway have failed in their bid to scrap work on the idea.

Deputies Lindsay de Sausmarez and Jonathan Le Tocq saw their motion asking the States' Assembly "to resolve not to progress an extension of Guernsey’s runway" defeated by 14 votes to 25.

Their motion was supported by all members of the States' senior committee, Policy & Resources, and Deputy Peter Roffey, the President of the States' Trading Supervisory Board, which runs the airport.

But it was opposed by all members of the Committee for Economic Development, which must now complete work on a much-delayed policy letter containing "a business case and cost-benefit analysis for the extension of the achieve a length of at least 1,700 metres". It is currently 1,463 metres.

The full voting record can be viewed HERE.


Pictured: Deputies Lindsay de Saumarez and Jonathan Le Tocq argued unsuccessfully against the States holding another debate next year on whether to extend Guernsey's runway. 

The President of the Committee for Economic Development, Deputy Neil Inder, pictured top left, assured the States that his Committee would submit its policy letter for debate by the States' Assembly by May next year. It will be the latest in a long line of States' debates going back more than 20 years on the issue of whether to extend the runway.  

Speaking about the developing policy letter, Deputy Simon Vermeulen, the Committee's lead for tourism and a long-time supporter of extending the runway, said his Committee had "produced a compelling and conclusive case which I am sure, when you get the chance to see it, will make you think very differently about extending the runway".

Deputy Vermeulen, pictured top right, referred to findings which he said "show quite clearly" that extending the runway "creates growth...and this island needs growth more than it has ever needed it before".

Research carried out by consultants Frontier Economics in 2019 indicated that lengthening the runway could lead to more visitors and significantly benefit the economy.

But York Aviation, a firm of aviation specialists, recently advised that a runway extension was likely to damage the island's air links with key destinations and cost the States tens of millions of pounds a year in lost income.


Pictured: A report by York Aviation, the conclusions of which were recently published by the States' Trading Supervisory Board, indicated that extending Guernsey's runway in the hope of attracting low-cost operators could reduce Aurigny's income by up to £25m a year.

Deputies de Sausmarez and Le Tocq submitted their amendment in a debate on whether to extend Alderney's runway. They argued that the States should make a decision on the future of Guernsey's runway before voting on whether to extend Alderney's. 

Deputy de Sausmarez said the amendment was "straightforward and about basic logic and high level principles". 

"The policy letter's primary recommendation to extend the Alderney airport runway is based partly on the financial savings that could be achieved by Aurigny in doing so. A subsequent decision by the States to extend the Guernsey runway would have a very significant impact on Aurigny's operational model and would severely curtail its revenue potential. In that scenario, the case for the Alderney runway, which let's not forget is closely interwoven with Aurigny, would be retrospectively undermined," said Deputy de Sausmarez.

"However, because of the sequence of decision making, the Alderney runway would be first and the Guernsey runway some indeterminate time after that. We're being asked to make a significant investment decision in Alderney's runway with the sword of Damocles of the Guernsey runway decision dangling over our heads.

"By resolving not to progress an extension to Guernsey's runway, it would provide assurance during this debate on the Alderney runway that the financial logic underpinning the case made by the sponsoring committees will not later be undermined."

Alderney Airport runway money

Pictured: The States have spent much of their meeting this week debating proposals to commit £24m on Alderney's airport, including extending the runway, but several deputies have argued that a decision about the future length of Guernsey's runway should be made first.

Deputy de Sausmarez said deputies already had sufficient information to rule out extending Guernsey's runway for the foreseeable future.

"Leaving aside that none of the reports and presentations and work in the past 15 years have found a way to overcome the fact that we're simply too small a market to benefit from the most obvious potential upsides of a longer runway, this is something that we have debated quite a few times over the past decade or so," she said.

"I think there was a debate in 2009. There was one in 2018. I think there were three in 2019. So the idea that yet another debate on this issue is going to reach the kind of closure that I think Deputy [Yvonne] Burford and maybe some others are looking for is, I think, misguided.

"The global aviation industry is facing considerable uncertainty as to its future direction. The pandemic has had a huge impact on air travel and we're just not going to know for some time what the new normal will look like.

"Also technological innovation, particularly being driven by international net zero, or jet zero as it's known in certain parts of the trade, means that aircraft design is evolving rapidly. There is a credible school of thought in the industry that it could lead to smaller aircraft, especially given the potential for electric-powered aircraft. 

"There is more than we can realistically achieve in the Government Work Plan. I'm sure we are all prepared to shoulder our own responsibility in exercising discipline over spending before asking the community to shoulder an additional tax burden."


Pictured: Deputy Neil Inder said this time last year that his Committee's proposals on Guernsey's runway would be submitted to the States in May or June this year. He said yesterday that they would now be submitted by May next year.

Deputy Inder informed the States that his Committee had already spent around £280,000 investigating the pros and cons of extending Guernsey's runway and that no further expenditure was expected before submitting the policy letter to the States next year.

Opposing the amendment to scrap his Committee's work and not proceed with a runway extension, Deputy Inder said: "We are just asking you to allow us to carry on to completion - it's as simple as that.

"There is no way that this amendment closes something off. The only thing that closes this debate off is allowing us to come to the States in May. That finishes the job.

"If anyone thinks that by amendment today, by directing the Committee to stop, that's going to finish this, you have got no idea what that would erupt into. If you think it's an open sore now, support this amendment."

Deputy Inder said that industry representative bodies wanted his Committee to complete its investigation into the future length of the runway and make recommendations to the States. 

"This looks like a requête wedged into an amendment. We've gone from Alderney something about Guernsey runway...there you go, pre-Christmas, Alice Through the Looking Glass," he said.


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Aviation specialists reach damning conclusions on runway extension

"Guernsey's air strategy is being dictated by the needs of an airline"

Deputy wants Guernsey runway debated ahead of Alderney runway

Runway report delayed by months - but Committee won't say why

Presidents at odds over latest attempt to extend runway

Aurigny could survive if Guernsey's runway is extended

Independent report supports runway extension

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