05 August 2016
A constructive meeting was held yesterday (4 August 2016) involving the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture (EDTSC), Senator Lyndon Farnham, and senior management of Flybe and Blue Islands airlines. Officials from Ports of Jersey Limited and EDTSC also attended.
Recent issues that have led to customer dissatisfaction with air links under the franchise arrangement between Flybe and Blue Islands were discussed in depth. Ways in which the Government of Jersey could work with both Flybe and Blue Islands to resolve any problems were also considered.
Importance of air links
All parties recognised the importance of inter-island and UK air links for economic, social and tourism purposes, and Ministers were encouraged by reassurances that steps are being taken to overcome recent technical and operational difficulties. It was confirmed that:
- Blue Islands will take delivery of an additional aircraft next week, adding more resilience to its fleet and thereby greatly reducing the chances of service disruption
- Flybe and Blue Islands will better align customer service following the recent implementation of the franchise agreement
- Flybe and Blue Islands will improve communications with their customers in the Channel Islands
- Senator Farnham will meet monthly with the senior management of Blue Islands to closely monitor progress and keep the situation under review
Senator Farnham said “It is essential that we work together to address issues that are currently being experienced on a number of air links, in recognition of the importance of these services to us all. Both the Chief Minister and I were encouraged by the attitude and commitment shown by all parties to resolve the issues and end the current disruption and uncertainty for travellers. We were provided with sufficient information to have confidence that the problems of recent months will shortly be behind us.”
Blue Islands Managing Director Rob Veron said “Blue Islands has now resumed its full published flying programme, as we remain 100 per cent focused on returning to the levels of on-time performance that our customers and stakeholders all reasonably expect. We acknowledge there has been an unprecedented amount of disruption to Blue Islands' services and we apologise to all affected customers. In 14 years of serving our islands, never before have we experienced as many concurrent issues resulting in aircraft being out of service. This combined with delays and eventually being let down by an aircraft lessor, severely affected our performance.”
Mr Veron continued “Having recovered from this disruption, Blue Islands is fully committed to taking robust measures to mitigate against the risk of future occurrences where the cause is within our control.
“As part of our commitment to improve performance, Blue Islands has secured an interim spare aircraft from Sunday, for quick deployment as required, whilst we await delivery of a new larger ATR 72 aircraft, due to be introduced to our fleet from September. This will deliver an additional 60,000 seats each year to Blue Islands’ services to further serve our islands and return to the high standards of on-time performance we have always been proud to have achieved.”