17 November 2017

Guernsey Air and Ferry Freight and Passenger Routes in the News This Week  

Aircraft Taxi Service Starts and Inter Island Sea Link Controversy

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Shipping News Feature UK – CHANNEL ISLES – Stories concerning transport to and from islands occupy a special place in freight and logistics news because, despite the headlines mainly concerning passenger movement, the ferry and air services which connect these outlying places to mainland and other islands, these are the essential link in the supply chain, ensuring local communities do not run out of vital supplies.

This month it is Guernsey in the news with both maritime and air contacts being discussed. We start with the aerial route where a new ‘on demand’ air taxi service, Waves, has been launched to alleviate the problems of both freight and passenger clients. Within months of his moving home to Guernsey, Waves CEO Nick Magliocchetti realised that air travel was among the islanders’ biggest frustrations. Travelling between the Channel Islands is one of the most expensive per mile flights in the world and with only one scheduled airline now operating, the prices are rising and the number of flights reducing.

Using Cessna Caravan aircraft the first phase of the new business will operate from this week between the Channel Islands with plans to expand operations to northern Europe and southern England in 2018. By starting locally, Waves claims it has demonstrated that this new model of air travel works and the technology is sound. It has now applied for a wider licence which will allow it to offer services across the UK and Europe, scaling up its operation to meet demand.

Waves is seeking £500,000 investment via crowdfunding site Seedrs in order to expand its licensing area, recruit more pilots and fly to more destinations. Waves will also look to expand the team as volume increases, and is considering future plans to purchase a hangar to reduce the storage cost of their fleet, further driving down costs.

The company management claims that by deploying state-of-the-art technology to manage things like bookings, security, and check-in it is able to keep costs, time, and hassle to a minimum meaning passengers can skip the usual queues, traffic, and parking costs that come with big airports. Using proprietary technology to manage every aspect of the process means a potential cut to a typical 100-minute travel experience between Guernsey and Jersey of an hour. Nick Magliocchetti comments:

“Over the last decade, the number of people travelling inter-island has fallen by 100,000, we want to recapture those people, not compete with existing operators. There is definitely demand beyond the existing offering, and Waves is already living proof of that. We get dozens of requests every day from islanders wanting to either travel with us or to arrange the transport of freight.”

Meanwhile maritime union RMT is less than enthusiastic about news that the new service envisaged between Jersey and Guernsey has been bid for by ferry group Condor. The union claims that Condor is ‘an exploitative employer that doesn't recognise trade unions, [and which] has a stranglehold over the availability of passenger ferry tonnage in the UK’.

The new service has been on the agenda for some time and Condor operates several similar services including routes to and from St. Malo, Jersey, Guernsey, Poole and Portsmouth. The RMT says the company’s employment practices mean it has an immediate and probably unassailable advantage for the new inter island service which ‘makes a mockery of the idea that Channel Islanders have any alternative to the grim profiteering and social dumping practices of Condor Ferries’. RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

"The people of Jersey and Guernsey should know that Condor are in a strong position to win any future contract for inter-island ferry services. The continued exploitation of seafarers on the existing Condor fleet makes a mockery of the notion of competition on a level playing field. It also undermines service provision, as passengers know only too well whilst feeding the bottomless pit of Macquarie investment bank.”

The RMT has long argued against the non-union status of many crew working aboard ferries serving the British Isles and RMT National Secretary Steve Todd said:

“RMT demand that this new and the existing contracts are subject to effective employment law which allows fair competition for seafarer jobs on what are lifeline services, including between southern England and the Channel Islands. Continuing with the current low cost model peddled by Condor is both unjust and unsustainable. We need to ensure that future and current tenders to provide services include the training and employment of local labour which greatly increases much needed employment opportunities for UK seafarers.”

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