In response to the States of Alderney announcing its support of extending the island’s runway, ex-politician and ex-Aurigny staff member Ralph Burridge has offered his rebuttal:
“You always know when the States members get rattled whilst trying to impress the public with their flawed Alderney airport Option ‘C’ rebuild decision-making process and someone burst their balloon; they issue a Press Release.
“Their latest attempt to defend the indefensible, promotes nothing of importance, whilst completely ignoring the overwhelmingly supportive mood of the public to the constructive proposals to give back to Alderney the service that it once had and could so easily have again.”
“If Aurigny achieve what they have always wanted: everything routing through Guernsey, with the possibility of Alderney to Southampton in high season, finding 20,000 backsides to occupy them is not achievable. Aurigny never carried that number of passengers between Alderney and Guernsey in its heyday. And for every empty seat, the cost per seat mile goes up and so do the fares.”
“The most important factor in the saving of life, is the first hour following any trauma. We used to pride ourselves on being able to get the patient to the PEH in about 35 minutes from call out.
“A rapid response time that can only be achieved by having a third level operator with aircraft and crew based on Alderney. Any off-island medivac service (including the Dornier, that has to be ‘re-rolled’ by engineers), would take longer than that to even get to Alderney.”
“The only beneficiary of that idea is Aurigny. By the end of this year Aurigny will have been bailed out, with finance, write offs and loan guarantees to the tune of £100 million and as agreed by the States in 2019, they would “make available financial support for the foreseeable future to meet the Groups debts and obligation as they fall due” (aka, a bottomless taxpayer funded financial black hole).
“Now they want the States of Guernsey to approve another £50 million to rehabilitate Alderney’s airport, just to reduce their costs.
“It certainly won’t reduce the airport deficit, for if ATR’s are given access to Alderney, the running costs of operating the airfield will be astronomical. UK CAA classifies the ATR 72-600 (27 metre wingspan), as a Code 3C aircraft, requiring a runway at least 1200m long and 30m wide. The rehabilitation estimates for Option ‘C’ will probably need to be revised upwards. The UK Department of Transport enhanced airport security requirements for any airport handling aircraft with more than 19 passenger seats, is a terminal building that provides separation between departing and arriving passengers, a separate secure facility for screening hold baggage, plus electronic screening of passengers and their carry-on baggage. The present fire and rescue service upgraded to Category 5 level and security fencing around the airfield perimeter.”
“The flexible flight programme that Alderney needs can easily be achieved with the £11 million refurbishment capital that has already been approved for Alderney’s runway, using either a dedicated, or sub-contracted level 3 operator.
If option ‘C’ goes ahead, this type of service will never ever be available to Alderney again in the future. Under Guernsey’s ‘closed skies’ policy, Aurigny control both the Alderney to Southampton and Guernsey routes Without co-operative access to both of those routes, the remaining crumbs left for any incoming level 3 carrier will not provide a commercially viable operation.’
“A tragedy for Alderney. Not only for expansion of a flexible Alderney based passenger hub, a more effective medivac service and an improved parcel and freight service.
“If you attended the recent presentation by GreenAir, you will already be aware that all of this, together with planned Zero environmental targets through progressive change to hydrogen power over the next few years was planned and costed. Just think of the kudos that it would bring to the island, as opposed to the opinion of our States Member ‘experts’, who are throwing away the opportunity for Alderney to re-vitalise itself with a world leading opportunity, for all of the wrong reasons.
“Just come to hand is yet another piece of both ignorance and arrogance, a Public Statement from the States attempting to discredit the whole of the GreenAir programme. I am confident that the public won’t fall for it, so watch this space.”
FOCUS: Debate on runway extension coming to the boil