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22nd June 2009

Competition good for business

Competition good for business, stresses Flybe
<Leading regional airline reiterates support for States’ liberalising route licensing>

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, has today strongly rejected the ‘monopolistic’ references made against it by Blue Islands’ Chairman reported in the weekend press, stressing that competition is beneficial to creating strong, sustainable business models to the ultimate benefit of the consumer, rather than something to be feared and protected against at all cost.

The airline’s comments are in direct response to statements made after an unofficial closed meeting called last week for selected interested parties to discuss the States of Guernsey and the Department of Commerce and Employment’s next move having already accepted the recommendations of the Office of Utility Regulation (OUR) to liberalise air route licensing. 

The meeting, called by Aurigny and Blue Islands’ airlines, was advised by the latter’s chairman, Derek Coates, that a merger with Aurigny would be preferable over ‘losing control’ of their individual destinies. It was a meeting that excluded Flybe which has long been on record in support of liberalisation on the premise that it can only lead to real and tangible benefits for Guernsey residents.

Ian Taylor, Flybe’s General Manager in the Channel Islands comments: “Flybe never has been, and never expects to be, a monopolistic supplier to the Island. We operate with healthy competition on the vast majority of our routes, including those to and from Guernsey and this is unlikely to change irrespective of whether or not the States decides to liberalise air licensing by bringing the Island into line with 21st century thinking. A decision to formally adopt the OUR recommendations would undoubtedly benefit consumers as is evidenced from other similar sized jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man and Jersey, that have taken similar policy decisions.

“Flybe has little or no interest in cultivating inter-Island travel that remains limited to filling existing capacity. It would also be highly unlikely for any other carrier to be able to break the Aurigny/Blue Islands’ stranglehold on these routes.”

“However we do see opportunities for Flybe, and other new carriers, in the introduction of a wider choice of travel options for Islanders. This will only be possible once the huge administrative burden that actively disincentivises airlines from introducing new routes to and from the Island, has been removed.”

Mr Taylor concludes: “Flybe can only assume that Mr Coates’ merger proposal underlines the poor commercial performance of both Blue Islands and Aurigny and that this attempt to seek protection from competition is merely one that pursues the hidden agenda of his airline alone.”