15th May 2003

The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny

When British Airways announced the end of its Guernsey to Gatwick route, something had to be done. A direct air connection to London is vital for the island’s finance and tourist industries.

The BA service would end on 16 June 2003, a little over a month after the news broke, because of a couple of factors. For one thing, BA was returning the ATR 72 aircraft it used on the route to the leasing company that owned them. For another, it couldn’t justify maintaining the service using larger aircraft.

Aurigny aircraft

An emergency debate

The news caught the States on the hop, and it quickly scheduled a debate and vote on buying Aurigny. Taking the local airline into public ownership meant it could be funded partly through taxes, and thus its viability would be less dependent on ticket sales. This would enable the States to guarantee the continued operation of the London route.

A special sitting of the States of Deliberation was called, at which Deputies voted 32-2 in favour of the purchase. The price was set at around £5m, with a further £2m set aside to underwrite any losses.

Rivals’ concerns

The move wasn’t without its critics. Rival LeCocqs Airlink wanted assurances that Aurigny wouldn’t be given preferential treatment once it was States-owned. LeCocqs was planning an Alderney to Jersey route at the time, but put the brakes on it as soon as the States’ decision was announced.

Flybe had delivered a letter the night before the Deputies were due to sit, debate and vote on the move. It asked for a delay, explaining that it was worried the move would affect its business. Flybe said it did not want to operate on a route that competed directly with a States-owned (and thus States-subsidised) operation.

Aurigny aircraft

Roger Dadd, chair of the Guernsey Chamber of Commerce transport sub-committee had proposed that the States purchase the landing slots that BA was vacating – and stop there. Rather than get into the airline business itself, it could then lease them to an independent airline. Flybe said it would happily be that airline.

Aurigny is now owned 100% by a holding company called Cabernet Ltd. Cabernet is itself owned by the States of Guernsey. Formed in January 2003, its registered address is States Airport, Forest, Guernsey.


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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st