The Aurigny story

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F17AurignyTrislander2.jpg


Aurigny Air Services was founded by Sir Derrick Bailey and started operations on 1 March 1968 after British United Airways withdrew the Alderney to Guernsey route

Aurigny Trislander

Aurigny initially operated Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, developing a highly efficient network linking the Channel Islands with each other and with France and the United Kingdom. During the first year of operations the airline carried 45,000 passengers between Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney.

Walk-on, walk-off

The original intention had been to provide a walk-on walk-off bus-stop service between the islands, but the popularity of the service and the airline’s growing success was to put a stop to this level of simplicity. [1]

By 1969 Aurigny were already operating seven Islanders, soon to rise to eight, and carried 105,000 passengers during the year.

Aurigny became the first commercial operator of the Britten-Norman Trislander in July 1971 and the airline was for some years the world’s largest operator of the type. Use of this larger aircraft enabled the route structure to be developed to include the south coast of England and northern France.

In 1972 they opened their own passenger terminal, and the informality of the early years was never entirely lost. It was quite common even in the 1990s for regular travellers stuck in traffic en route to Jersey Airport to phone ahead to warn check-in staff of their delayed arrival. They would join the other passengers in the departure gate at the last minute, and it was not unknown for take-offs to be delayed for the airline’s best customers.

In 1977 Aurigny was the first airline in the world to ban smoking on all services. The following year the thriving airline was taken over by Anglo-Normandy Aviation. In 1993 Aurigny won a contract to carry mail between the Channel Islands and the UK and in 1999 it began daily services from Guernsey to London Stansted Airport and Amsterdam Airport operated by Saab 340 aircraft. The latter route was later dropped due to poor demand.

Acquisition by States

Ownership of the airline passed from Aurigny Aviation Holdings to Close Brothers Private Equity on 23 May 2000, but was wholly acquired by States of Guernsey on 15 May 2003, after British Airways announced that it was to cease flying between London Gatwick and Guernsey.

It employs 300 staff in the Channel Islands, France and the United Kingdom. Aurigny also operates charter services.

In March 2009 Aurigny announced a Jersey to London Stansted service, whilst restarting the Guernsey and East Midlands link. Daily flights commenced from 1 May 2009. The frequency of flights from Guernsey to London Gatwick was increased from 4 to 5 daily return flights that day.

Notes and references

  1. As Jerripedia editor Mike Bisson recalls, regular passengers on certain flights used to enjoy a level of service not encountered with any other airline operating out of Jersey. 'I used to travel regularly to Dinard on a Friday afternoon in the mid-nineties, and most of the passengers on the flight were the same, week in, week out, and we all knew each other. Most worked in town and drove straight from work to catch the flight, often arriving as the flight was called and passengers started to assemble at the door providing access to the apron where the aircraft awaited. It was a regular occurrence for the opening of the door to be delayed awaiting a passenger who had phone ahead to say that he or she had been delayed in traffic and would be late arriving. Flights were held for up to 10 to 15 minutes for such frequent and valued travellers. I remember another occasion when I was flying to Guernsey on the first flight out in the morning, on a particularly wild and windy winter's day. There was a cross-wind at Guernsey and the pilot made two unsuccessful attempts to land, aborting at the last second to undertake another circuit of the airport. After the second attempt, having gained height and levelled out, he turned around to address his passengers, informing them that he was prepared to try once more, but it would be a very bumpy landing. Did we want him to try to land, or would we prefer him to return to Jersey. A show of hands indicated that most of the passengers had early business meetings and would prefer to land in Guernsey, so the pilot made another approach, this time successully. What other commercial airline would allow its pilots to take a mid-air vote on whether to continue or abort their journey?
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