Blue Islands and Ports of Jersey have announced a long-term ‘base carrier’ partnership. Blue Islands will focus its operations in Jersey, taking on many of the former Flybe routes, safeguarding vital regional connectivity into the UK. The agreement has been enabled by the provision of a commercial loan facility of up to £10 million from the Government of Jersey.
Blue Islands has provided essential, humanitarian flights from Jersey to Southampton and Gatwick throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These flights have enabled Islanders to return home, provided access for patients to specialist hospital treatment and supported the movement of essential workers for our emergency services.
Following the collapse of Flybe in March, Blue Islands swiftly identified the opportunity to serve the profitable routes that had been operated by Flybe. The loan facility together with the airport agreement enables Jersey’s largest base operator to re-emerge from the pandemic as a long-term, sustainable, strategic partner for the Island.
Rob Veron, CEO Blue Islands said, “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Government of Jersey and the ‘base carrier’ contract with the Ports of Jersey. This unique combination provides a strong platform to provide vital connectivity for Islanders and will play a key role in the recovery of the Island’s economy. Our focus is now to deliver sustainable, high-frequency, year-round regional services for many years to come. We recognise the important strategic role we need to play, as the Island’s locally based regional airline, in Jersey’s recovery plans.”
Matt Thomas, CEO, Ports of Jersey commented: “Air connectivity is critical for the way we live our lives as Islanders. It is crucial for our tourism and business communities, but as importantly, for us to visit loved ones, access essential medical care and for our children’s education. This partnership will see Blue Islands concentrate its operations in Jersey. At first, they will focus on key regional routes into the UK, complementing the services provided by British Airways and easyJet. In time, we share an ambition to develop connectivity into Europe. We look forward to working together to achieve this ambition.”
Senator Lyndon Farnham, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Economic Development, Tourism Sport and Culture, commented: “The future success of the Island’s economy depends on our connectivity. I am very pleased that Government of Jersey, Blue Islands and Ports of Jersey have worked together in partnership to safeguard regional connectivity into the UK.”
Mr Veron concluded, “We understand that there exists much demand for regional services as restrictions are lifted. In a recent survey of over 4,000 of our passengers, more than two thirds said that they intended to travel within three months of flights restarting and over 50% of those initial trips would be to visit friends and family. Whilst we may not have been operating as usual over the last few months, we have been busy planning the relaunch of Blue Islands, from our website, to our customer focused product offering, we’re bringing back The Welcome Difference! We are excited to share this with you over the coming weeks.”
Deputy Charles Parkinson, the President of the Guernsey Committee for Economic Development said: “We’ve learned recently of the new partnership agreement between the Ports of Jersey and Blue Islands. Clearly this is an uncertain time for nearly all airlines globally due to the worldwide restrictions on travel imposed as a result of Covid-19. Blue Islands has provided Jersey’s critical air links during the lockdown period of the
pandemic and Aurigny has provided Guernsey’s critical air links. This new partnership agreement is positive for the Channel Islands as a whole. It means that with services provided by two locally based airlines, both Guernsey and Jersey will have secure air connectivity links.
The Committee welcomes Blue Islands’ ongoing commitment to operating Guernsey’s chartered flight links with more than 20 European destinations which is important for our visitor economy, once travel restrictions lift. The Committee continues to see good air connectivity as a high priority and we look forward to working with Blue Islands and with other operators on the future of air services from Guernsey”.
As well as scheduled services, Blue Islands operates extensive charter programmes for European tour operators, bringing visitors to the islands from across Europe including Zurich, Rotterdam, Groningen and 20 regional airports throughout Germany. This activity makes up a large proportion of Jersey’s visitor economy.