Tuesday 04 October 2022
The States of Guernsey will be asked to approve plans to future proof Alderney's air links by extending its runway, subject to agreement being reached on both islands contributing to the cost.
Proposals for a major refurbishment of Alderney Airport are set out in a joint policy letter from the Policy & Resources Committee (P&RC) and the States' Trading Supervisory Board (STSB), which has operational responsibility for the airfield.
The preferred scheme, known as Option C+, involves resurfacing, widening, extending and strengthening the existing asphalt runway, as well as constructing a new terminal and refurbishing the airport fire station. Both buildings are more than 50 years old, and are expected to require replacement or refurbishment within the next few years.
The total cost is currently estimated to be around £24 million, which exceeds the £12m the States agreed in 2019 to resurface and widen the runway. However P&RC and STSB say the additional cost could be offset by operational savings, therefore a more comprehensive development represented better value in the long term.
It should also facilitate the delivery of other benefits to Alderney, including more resilient air links and a full medical evacuation capability.
The States of Guernsey are being asked to agree to the proposed refurbishment, subject to agreement being reached with the States of Alderney on a contribution to the costs.
In a letter to P&RC, Alderney's Policy & Finance Committee (P&FC) chairman Ian Carter confirmed it had agreed to explore options for the States of Alderney to make a financial contribution. It describes the proposed works as the most important infrastructure project for the Island in almost 200 years.
At present, air services to and from Alderney are subsidised by the States of Guernsey under a Public Service Obligation (PSO) contract, at a cost of around £2 million a year. This reflects the fact that although they are a lifeline for Alderney, under current conditions it is not viable for an airline to operate regular, year-round services on a commercial basis.
However that subsidy could be reduced by around £800,000 a year by operating larger aircraft, which requires a longer runway.
The cost of replacing the terminal and refurbishing the fire station has been estimated to be around £4.5 million if done separately. Doing the work now will equip the airport to meet the additional requirements for handling larger aircraft, and therefore unlock the potential benefits that can be achieved through a runway extension.
It will also future proof the airport for potential changes to international aviation regulations.
Under the proposals, Options C+ would replace the previously agreed runway refurbishment as the preferred scheme. P&RC will be tasked with negotiating the funding package with the States of Alderney, and would return to the States of Guernsey for further direction if a "reasonable and robust agreement" cannot be reached.
The policy letter acknowledges more work is required to firm up current estimates. P&RC will only use its delegated authority to approve expenditure if it considers Option C+ remains the best value, as the costs and benefits are developed.
P&RC President Deputy Peter Ferbrache said: "We are two islands but we are also one Bailiwick, and the interests of the two communities are closely interlinked. Our air links provide a vital lifeline, and this investment in Alderney Airport will safeguard its key connection to the rest of the Bailiwick and to the outside world, which are crucial to the Island's continued prosperity and wellbeing and our shared financial resilience given the anticipated significant reduction in the cost of the PSO to Guernsey taxpayers."
STSB President, Deputy Peter Roffey, said: "The runway at Alderney Airport was last resurfaced more than 20 years ago. Despite considerable remedial works in recent years, its condition has gradually deteriorated to the point where it now requires major works, and urgently.
"In 2019 the States of Guernsey agreed to a significant investment which would have addressed the condition of the current runway. Having revisited the business case, and taken account of all current factors, the STSB and P&RC, along with our colleagues in Alderney, have concluded that a more significant refurbishment would deliver greater benefits and better value for money."
- Under the terms of an agreement between the two islands, which was signed after the Occupation, the airfield is one of the 'transferred services' which Guernsey provides for Alderney. Operationally it is managed by Guernsey Ports.
- Other transferred services include secondary healthcare, policing, and education. In return, the States of Guernsey applies certain taxes and duties on Alderney residents.
- The rehabilitation of Alderney Airport's runway has been identified as a priority project, currently categorised as 'Must Do' in the Government Work Plan.