Aurigny Air Services, the regional airline based in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, has announced its intention to sell its sole jet aircraft, an Embraer 190, returning the carrier to an all-turboprop operator for the first time since 2014.
The airline plans to sell the 122-seat aircraft (registered G-NSEY), which it has owned outright for the past nine years, and use the sale funds to lease two additional ATR72-600, of which the company already has three in its fleet, alongside a pair of Dornier 228-200s.
The Embraer is exclusively used by the airline to operate its flagship route between Guernsey (GCI) and London-Gatwick Airport (LGW), which flies up to six times daily in peak times.
In a statement, Aurigny said using more ATR 72-600 aircraft would help it progress with its five-year strategy to operate a “more streamlined and efficient service.”
The airline also hopes that the fleet changes will result in fewer passenger disruptions. There have been several incidences over the period that the Embraer has been in service with the airline that has seen the aircraft grounded due to technical issues.
Such groundings have forced the carrier to cancel services or sub-charter third-party aircraft to fill the void – both of which have been expensive solutions for such a small company. Eliminating the type will also result in more flight crews being available as pilots will no longer need to be dedicated to the Embraer operation.
The airline has confirmed that there will be no redundancies as a result of the changes being made and that the fleet changes would assist in Aurigny becoming a a more cost-effective airline.
“Providing customers with the most reliable service possible has always been our priority, and we are confident that having a fleet made up of ATR 72s is the most efficient way to do this”, said Nico Bezuidenhout, CEO of Aurigny Air Services. “This project marks the beginning of a significant push towards running a more cost-effective and efficient airline, which will inevitably have a positive impact on the overall experience of our customers.”
Aurigny said the ATR72-600 aircraft are better suited to the airline’s shorter routes and are more environmentally friendly. According to the carrier, the 72-seat ATRs consume 36% less fuel per passenger on the route between Guernsey and Gatwick than the jet aircraft.
Making the switch to the type would be more beneficial in terms of commonality in maintenance equipment and spare parts.
Aurigny confirmed that although the passenger capacity would be smaller on the new planes, the overall capacity would “not be reduced.” The airline plans to operate a total of nine daily flights to London using the type – an increase of three return flights over the present six.
The airline also intends to begin flights to Paris in 2024 and continue serving 12 other destinations across its current network.
With the offloading of the Embraer, however, the airline will no longer have any aircraft capable of operating its series of inclusive tour charter flights to destinations such as Malaga (AGP) and Ibiza (IBZ) during the summer months.
The airline has confirmed that its owner – the States of Guernsey – has already approved the changes being implemented.