Wednesday 08 October 2014
The Commerce and Employment Department is responsible for developing and maintaining the Island's air links, the importance of which is identified within the Economic Development Framework document which underlines the importance of: "The provision of reliable, sustainable and affordable air links"
During May and June 2014 the Department conducted an air route survey that enabled it to gather information regarding air movement behaviour by business travellers and the general public and to understand the reasoning behind these decisions. The survey also provides information to help consider opportunities for the development of new or enhanced air route links in the future.
The main findings of the survey are as follows:
- The most popular destinations for Leisure travellers, in terms of the total number of trips made, were London Gatwick airport (38.4%), Southampton airport (17.9%) and Jersey airport (11.0%). Not surprisingly these airports were also viewed as the most important by survey respondents.
- For business travellers, London Gatwick airport accounted for nearly half of total trips made (47.0%), underlining the importance of this airport for the business community. The next most popular airport was Jersey (as a final destination) at 24.5% of total business trips.
- Jersey airport as an "en-route" destination is popular both for leisure and business travellers.
- For those travelling onwards to further destinations, Heathrow airport was the most popular UK destination both for leisure travellers and business travellers. For leisure travellers, Geneva, Paris and Zurich were the most popular European onward destinations. For business travellers, the most popular were Amsterdam, Zurich and Paris.
- For those travelling to onward destinations (both in the UK and further afield), London Gatwick airport and Southampton airport were the popular choices.
- Price, convenient flight times and a choice of flights were considered either very important or critical to most leisure travellers in terms of their choice of airport. For business travellers, price was less important, whereas convenient flight times and choice of flights were.
- Leisure travellers are more sensitive to price increases in airfares than business travellers.
Deputy Kevin Stewart, Minister for Commerce and Employment said:
"I would like to thank all those who took the time and trouble to take part in the survey. The information gleaned will help the Department with formulating strategies which will secure and enhance the provision of air links to and from Guernsey. The Department is firmly of the view that this will be essential to ensure that Guernsey is able to capitalise on economic growth opportunities.
The findings of the survey really confirm what we suspected - that London Gatwick remains the most important destination for air travellers, but that other routes, such as Southampton airport are becoming increasingly popular.
The survey also highlighted the desirability of introducing a link to London City airport and it is very pleasing to see that this route is now up and running.
Price and convenient flight times were seen as important factors for travellers when considering which airport to use. These are important considerations which the Department will take account of when considering what options it needs to implement to ensure the continued viability of Guernsey's air routes".
The Air Route Survey reaffirms the importance of Guernsey's air links, and also underlines where work will need to continue to protect and sustain these air routes. The Economic Development Framework document identifies the importance of air links and commits the Department to the further development of those air links, including seeking opportunities for increased connectivity. A key priority for the Department will be to investigate the potential for opportunities to be developed to access European hubs as well as other UK regional destinations.
However, development of any new routes will need to be on a sustainable and profitable basis. The air route survey generated a number of European and UK airport connections of interest, but strength of preference of one or more particular route was not clearly evident. Therefore route development will need to be carefully researched further. This will need to be in liaison with prospective carriers, the business community and the general public as well as prospective business and visitor economy markets. However, it is clear that the economic climate is now more favourable than a few years ago, and this may therefore present opportunities that are worthy of further exploration.