CICRA (the Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authorities) has agreed to allow Aurigny and Blue Islands to codeshare on the Guernsey-Jersey route after the airlines applied for an exemption under the islands’ competition laws.
Having taken into account responses to CICRA’s consultation on the issue, the competition authority has granted the exemption providing certain conditions are observed by the airlines.
Under the codeshare agreement, which will run initially for two years, Aurigny will take a fixed block of seats on flights operated by Blue Islands between Guernsey and Jersey using the 46-seat ATR42 aircraft, with ground support at the airports in both islands for those flights provided by Aurigny. Aurigny will pay Blue Islands a fixed charge for the seats.
CICRA chief executive, Andrew Riseley, said that the authority had ultimately concluded that the interests of customers would be best-served by allowing the airlines to codeshare.
“In the absence of the codeshare agreement both airlines contended that competition on the Jersey-Guernsey would shortly disappear. On balance our judgement is that the best means of protecting customers is to ensure that competition on the route remains as vigorous as possible and the conditions we have set for agreeing this exemption should achieve this.”
As well as stipulating that any changes to Aurigny’s obligation to take a fixed block of seats for each flight must be approved separately by CICRA, the conditions imposed by CICRA include:
- Each airline must market its seats on the route independently of the other, applying its own fares and conditions
- Aurigny must disclose clearly to its customers (on its timetables and website) that Blue Islands is the carrier on all flights on the route
Following concerns that the proposals could adversely affect consumers through inadequate capacity, the decision also requires the airlines to make reasonable efforts to ensure that extra capacity is provided on the route where required to meet levels of demand.
The airlines will fly six or seven flights in each direction on weekdays, four flights in each direction on Saturdays and three flights in each direction on Sundays. Tickets will still display the Blue Islands SI and Aurigny GR code, respectively, and the airlines’ respective frequent flyer and corporate discount schemes will continue to apply.
Mr Riseley said many of the responses to the consultation dealt with quality of service issues rather than fare structures.
“We believe that this is the best solution possible under the circumstances; that this is the best level of competition which can be achieved.
“The airlines have provided future forecasts under the joint operation which show financial improvements for both parties. CICRA is of the view that, without this financial improvement, one of the parties would exit the route altogether.”