It is looking likely that Guernsey's Heathrow route will continue into the summer of 2020, according to an Economic Development Deputy, but a deal won't be struck until the 11th hour.
Deputy Joe Mooney, the Committee's Tourism Lead, said negotiations had just begun between the island and Flybe/Virgin Connect, discussing whether the island would keep its new direct link to London Heathrow.
The route is heavily subsidised by the States, but has opened up new opportunities for islanders to fly straight to London's biggest international airport - it has also been strongly supported by the local business community.
So far, it has all been based on six month chunks though. It was initially agreed the route would be run for six months, from the start of the summer in 2019. That was then extended through the winter, until the end of March 2020.
Pictured: Flybe are rebranding to Virgin Connect.
The question on many minds now is whether the route will still be there after its first 12 months - Deputy Joe Mooney told Express he thought this was likely, although negotiations had just begun.
"Negotiations as far as I know are just starting today," he said on Friday, "and we won't know for sure what is going to happen until they are concluded. They normally last until the 11th, or even the 12th, hour.
"The messages we are getting are so far so good though, because our figures are up and have been performing well. My understanding is that they want to carry on the route."
An Economic Development spokesperson confirmed that nothing was set in stone yet, and discussions were still on going about securing the continuation of the service.
It was recently rumoured in the UK that Newquay, in Cornwall, would be losing its four-daily flights with Flybe to Heathrow, although the airline has not commented on the possibility. Deputy Mooney said people in Guernsey had nothing to worry about however, as the flights from New Quay to Heathrow were set up on a Public Service Agreement, while Guernsey's was using "community slots". He clarified that while this did not mean Guernsey would definitely keep the route, it was in no way linked to the Newquay flights.
Deputy Mooney went as far to say that Virgin Connect had been so impressed with Guernsey's figures on the Heathrow route, they had started talking about replicating the model for Jersey.
"Jersey will likely have a Heathrow route next year," he said.
"Virgin Connect seem to be saying that they are happy with how the Heathrow route has worked for Guernsey, and so think it will work for Jersey. That is what early indications that we are getting from the airline show at least."
Pictured top: Deputy Joe Mooney, Tourism Lead for Economic Development.
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