Blue Islands (SI, Jersey) will, from July 1, cease groundhandling operations in Guernsey, which have been dormant for 12 months, and instead will engage the services of fellow Channel Island carrier Aurigny Air Services (GR, Guernsey).

This follows the announcement of an in-principal agreement between the carriers to codeshare on selected routes between the Channel Islands and the UK, aiming to restore connectivity to both Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey as the islands emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

UK media reported the groundhandling switch would result in 15 redundancies at Blue Islands, but result in more job opportunities at Aurigny. Blue Islands Chief Executive Officer Rob Veron told reporters that Aurigny had committed to considering employing Blue Island staff where possible.

“To ensure future long-term viability, all airlines are having to restructure and seek efficiencies, it is no different in the case of Blue Islands. As we emerge from the pandemic, re-building a sustainable future, we have had to make some difficult decisions. One such decision is to cease operating a ground handling function in Guernsey, which has been dormant for over 12 months. From July 1, Blue Islands will engage the services of Aurigny once again. Thankfully, this does create additional employment at Aurigny, who have committed to offering all affected Blue Islands staff the opportunity to interview for roles created as a result of this new contract,” Veron said.

As part of the code-share agreement, the carriers plan to harmonise their schedules between Guernsey, Jersey, Exeter, and Birmingham Int'l to offer same-day return services on certain days of the week. Together they will also rebuild flight frequencies between Guernsey and Southampton, and provide flight options for the residents of Alderney, connecting in Guernsey through to Jersey.

The co-operation agreement, subject to consultation with relevant authorities, will be phased in with an anticipated easing of travel restrictions in July 2021.

In a joint statement, Veron and Aurigny Chief Executive Officer Nico Bezuidenhout said: "We firmly believe this agreement will help to bring stability for both passengers and our employees. Whilst we remain competitors, we will continue to seek out areas where efficiencies may be gained from collaboration – ensuring the viability and sustainability of this essential part of island infrastructure."