Minister criticises airlines for delays

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Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham yesterday expressed concern about the level of service being given by the carriers and told Members he was organising meetings with the airlines to discuss the issue.

Between 1 November and 22 January there have been 40 flight cancellations and 369 delays on the routes to London City and Bristol – routes held exclusively by Blue Islands, which is the franchise partner of Flybe – as well as the Southampton and inter-island routes, which are operated by both airlines, Deputy Farnahm said.

However, he also acknowledged that some of the delays and cancellations were due to bad weather.

Responding to a question from St John Constable Chris Taylor, who told the Assembly he had recently been charged £201 for a one-way ticket between Southampton and Jersey, the minister said: ‘I do think that is an extortionate amount of money to pay.’

He added: ‘As Members would expect I have kept a very close rapport with the airlines and shipping companies, especially during the inclement weather conditions over the Christmas period.

‘But not withstanding that I have been concerned not only about fares but about the level of service being offered, particularly by Flybe and Blue Islands between Jersey and the UK.

‘I would like to reassure Members that I have followed this closely with Ports of Jersey and I have meetings being arranged with Blue Islands and Flybe to discuss the situation.’

Mr Taylor said that there had been a ‘significant drop’ in transport between the islands and added that there had also been ‘a very poor level of service’.

‘A significant number of their flights are delayed for what are termed operational reasons, which I personally take as management incompetence,’ Mr Taylor said. ‘Would he [the minister] please examine this and ensure this island gets a better service or find an alternative airline.’

Deputy Farnham replied: ‘I do not consider that to be good enough and I have asked for a meeting with the airlines to discuss it.’

He said that it was not for him – nor did he have the power – to replace airlines.

‘Having said that, and being critical of Flybe and Blue Islands, they are extremely important carriers for the Channel Islands and we must support them and help them to get
things right.’

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