Key Points:

  • Guernsey-based airline Aurigny plans to replace its single Embraer 195 jet with two ATR 72 turboprops as part of a fleet simplification strategy.

  • The transition, expected to be completed next year, aims to create a more cost-effective and efficient airline, improving the customer experience.

  • Alongside the transition, Aurigny plans to increase flight frequency to London Gatwick and offer year-round services to Paris Charles de Gaulle starting spring 2024.

Aurigny's Strategic Fleet Overhaul

LONDON — Aurigny, the regional carrier based in Guernsey, is set to undergo a significant transformation in its fleet composition. The airline will replace its only jet, an Embraer 195, with a pair of more efficient ATR 72 turboprops. This move is part of the airline's strategy to simplify and rebalance its fleet, currently consisting of six aircraft. Nico Bezuidenhout, the Chief Executive of Aurigny, outlined the plan as a step towards rebalancing the fleet, according to a report by Bailiwick Express.

The completion of this transition is slated for next year. Bezuidenhout emphasized that this project signals the start of an initiative to operate a more cost-effective and efficient airline. The expected outcome is a positive impact on customer experience, stemming from the streamlined fleet. This shift towards greater fleet standardization is set to bring multiple benefits, including reduced maintenance costs, simplified training processes, and increased operational flexibility. Furthermore, transitioning to turboprops aligns with the airline's objective of reducing fuel consumption.

Expansion of Services and Future Plans

In conjunction with its fleet overhaul, Aurigny is also expanding its flight services. Bailiwick Express reports that the airline plans to increase its flight frequency to London Gatwick. This expansion will open up more options for services to various European destinations. In a recent announcement, Aurigny revealed its intention to operate year-round, twice-weekly flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle, beginning in spring 2024.

The current fleet of Aurigny, aside from the Embraer 195, includes three ATR 72-600s and a pair of Dornier 228 aircraft. The introduction of additional ATR 72s is expected to enhance the carrier's operational efficiency and offer passengers more frequent and diverse flight options. This strategic move reflects Aurigny's commitment to improving its operational efficiency while expanding its reach within Europe, marking a significant step in the carrier's ongoing development.

Critique of Aurigny's Fleet Change Strategy

The decision by Aurigny to replace its Embraer 195 jet with ATR turboprops has been met with skepticism by Barry Cash, the chairman of the Guernsey Aviation Action Group. Cash views the move as prioritizing the airline's interests in reducing operational costs over serving the needs of the Guernsey public. He expressed concerns about the broader implications of this decision for the island's residents and its future air travel offerings.

Cash pointed out that airfares in Guernsey remain high compared to neighboring Jersey and doubted whether Aurigny's fleet restructuring would bring any change in this regard. He questioned the rationale behind removing the jet, which was acquired nine years ago to meet the high capacity demands of the Gatwick route. Cash's remarks imply skepticism about Aurigny's strategic planning and decision-making in managing its fleet to best serve its routes and passengers.

Concerns Over Cost-Effectiveness and Business Impact

Further elaborating on his concerns, Cash questioned the logic behind adding two more ATR aircraft to the fleet. He raised doubts about the cost-effectiveness of this decision, noting that it would require additional staff, thus potentially offsetting the intended cost savings. The chairman also highlighted the jet's significance beyond its practical use, describing it as a symbol of status for the business community in Guernsey. According to him, the business and finance sectors, which are vital to the Guernsey economy, favored having the jet as part of the island's air transport infrastructure.

Aurigny's past statements about wanting to rationalize its aircraft lineup for cost reduction, including the removal of the jet and Dornier planes, have now come under scrutiny. Cash's remarks reflect broader concerns about the airline's strategic direction and its alignment with the economic and travel needs of Guernsey. The debate over Aurigny's fleet restructuring highlights the complex considerations involved in balancing operational efficiency with the demands and expectations of a community reliant on air travel.