THE Island experienced a strong climb in passenger numbers at the Airport last year but is still failing to match pre-pandemic levels, according to Ports of Jersey’s latest annual report.
A total of 1.3m passengers were welcomed through Jersey Airport in 2022 – nearly double that of 2020 but still significantly down compared to the last pre-Covid year of 2019, where the figure was more than 1.7 million.
However, the peak summer months of July and August saw monthly volumes not achieved since April 2019.
The report states: ‘Our busiest day and weekend was the August bank holiday, when more than 17,000 passengers travelled through Jersey Airport.’
It adds that the overall recovery in passenger numbers was among the fastest of all the airports in the UK and Crown Dependencies.
Additionally, Ports achieved an operating profit of £1.9m, up from a loss of £4.3m in 2021.
However, the report also states the aviation industry ‘remains under immense pressure’, not only from the pandemic recovery but also the cost-of-living crisis, with high inflation driving up running costs against ‘already low profit margins’.
Ports chair Mark Chown described the impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector as ‘stark’, with many airlines reducing their services and others – such as Flybe – exiting the market.
‘Nevertheless, with aviation passenger volumes in 2022 recovering, but still not matching pre-pandemic levels, we are confident that this trend will continue. Building on the close working relationships developed with our airline partners during the pandemic, we have secured new routes and signed new medium-term agreements to increase our route network across the UK and into Europe,’ he added.
This includes the inaugural Jersey-to-Amsterdam route announced by easyJet at the end of last year, as well as a five-year agreement with British Airways projected to carry more than two million passengers between Jersey and BA’s global hub in Heathrow.
Mr Chown continued: ‘To summarise, I am pleased that we have moved on from the disruption wrought by the Covid pandemic on the travel industry. Our airport has seen a strong return in passenger numbers, we have valuable new agreements with British Airways and easyJet, and we are ready to transform our harbour to make it fit for the future.
‘I am confident that we will continue to see growth in passenger numbers, and I look forward to Ports of Jersey ensuring a resilient supply chain, securing and enhancing connectivity, working with government to safeguard future ferry services and creating a harbour and airport that Islanders can be proud of.’
Meanwhile, the southern French ferry route was down 51% to 175,000 passengers compared to 360,000 in 2019.
‘This continued reduced volume is not only Covid-19 related but also materially impacted as a result of Brexit requiring passports to now travel between France and the Island. In comparison, the northern UK routes are exceeding 2019 volumes by 16%,’ the report added.
However, Mr Chown said that the government’s recent initiative to allow day trip passengers from France to enter Jersey using their ID cards would hopefully increase the number of visitors.