Aurigny Air Services (GR, Guernsey) has dismissed concerns over the future of the airline and its vital lifeline services to and from its home on the Channel Island of Guernsey.

The regional carrier is expected to incur further heavy losses next year, rising from GBP7.6 million pounds (USD9.85 million) in 2019, which itself was GBP3 million (USD 3.9 million) higher than forecast, to GBP9.6 million (USD12.44 million) in 2020. These planned losses were highlighted in the States of Guernsey budget for 2020 last month. The forecast includes an operating loss of GBP8.6 million (USD 11.14 million) in 2020 and a potential GBP1 million (USD1.3 million) loss associated with the disposal of its two Do228 aircraft.

The airline's worsening financial situation is prompting the islands’ government, which owns the carrier, to reassess how to best manage the airline’s future.

Mark Darby, Chief Executive Officer of Aurigny, said he was unable to comment on the process but that he knows the routes “are vital to the island,” when speaking to UK newspaper The Telegraph.

He also rejected suggestions that Aurigny was in jeopardy. “I don’t think there’s a suggestion that Aurginy is at risk. Simply that the States of Guernsey is now planning to review its air links strategy as our losses have escalated following various changes to the States of Guernsey policies.”

Support for the airline is “assured” said a States of Guernsey spokesperson, also to The Telegraph. “There are many challenges faced by all regional airlines and Aurigny is no exception, and the airline has incurred losses for a number of years,” the spokesperson said. “This does not in itself pose any risk to the airline’s ability to operate but the States of Guernsey is discussing how best to address this through a coordinated air link strategy."

A few weeks ago it was also revealed that the airline's “lifeline” route to Alderney would be operated by just two aircraft, down from four, after one Do228, G-SAYE (msn 8046), stopped flying in April and another needed a GBP500,000 (USD648,000) wing replacement.

Earlier in the year, there was further uncertainty over the Alderney services, which is flown up to 4x daily, when the States of Guernsey rejected a set of bids from four carriers to operate Public Service Obligation (PSO) services. The PSO tender is still open, with a decision expected in early 2020.

The airline carried just over 530,000 passengers in 2018, down 2.24% on 2017 results according to UK Civil Aviation Authority figures. Aurigny's traffic also declined in 2017 and 2016, albeit at marginal rates - 1.35% and 0.61% respectively. By contrast, its load factor was 72.8% last year, the best result it has achieved over the last five years.

According to the ch-aviation PRO airlines module, Aurigny operates a varied fleet of 10 aircraft, one ATR 42-500, three ATR 72-500s, one ATR 72-600, three Do228s, and a sole E190.

Given that Guernsey is a holiday destination, its current winter schedule is more limited that than its peak summer operation. Referring to the ch-aviation schedules module, Aurigny this week links Guernsey with Alderney, Bristol Int'l, East Midlands, Jersey, London Gatwick, London Stansted, Manchester Int'l, and Southampton.

Editorial Comment: ATR72-500 count corrected to three aircraft - 21.11.2019 - 06:12 UTC