Blue Islands want Southampton service

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Blue Islands want Southampton service

Post by GD on Sat 29 Jan 2011, 12:58 pm

Just four months after failing in a bid to take over Aurigny, Blue Islands is again looking to crank up pressure on its main rival.

The Healthspan airline wants to operate flights between Alderney and Southampton.

This would be in direct competition with States-owned company Aurigny, whose boss says there is not room for two carriers.

Alderney's only direct air link to the UK is often described as a lifeline, but how would current operator Aurigny be affected if Blue Islands was given permission to set up in competition on the route?

The Healthspan-owned airline, which runs a hotel in the island, has long coveted the link and now seems determined to upgrade its Alderney coverage.

As well as flying to the UK, Blue Islands wants to operate more flights to Guernsey and set up a summer service to France.

But why should Alderney give Blue Islands a run at Aurigny s exclusive Southampton route?

Yvonne Scott from Healthspan Hotels said: "I think the Alderney economy's suffering a little bit, I think that they do a fantastic job with the limited budget that they've got to promote tourism, and for us people choose a destination first and the hotel second so it's logical that we should put some support behind VisitAlderney and put Alderney on the map as a tourist destination.

"I think it's just a case of making sure if we can attract enough attention and attract the level of visitors to Alderney, that we can actually get them there. And currently the transport links are probably the one little stumbling block and the wrong thing would be to end up victims of our own success.

However, while Blue Islands appear confident that new Alderney air links are needed, Aurigny's boss doesnt think he will be seeing competition on the Southampton route any time soon.

Malcolm Hart, Aurigny Managing Director, said: "I don't think there's any chance of Blue Islands being successful on a licence application for Alderney-Southampton.

"They tried it a few years ago, nothing's really changed at all. The route is like many others in the island where there's just not enough room for two operators."

Alderney's politicians appear willing to listen to Healthspan's ideas, but it is unclear how much support exists for opening up the Southampton link.

Alderney States Member, Paul Arditti, said: "We need to bear in mind that the Alderney to Southampton route is a lifeline service and we cant look at it as a commercial route.

"Lifeline services do not in my view necessarily benefit from competition in the same way as a commercial route does. We therefore have to take a much deeper view and move much more cautiously."
(from CTV)

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