Concerns raised over level of Flybe Heathrow subsidy

22nd February 2019

Concerns have been raised over the level of subsidy given to Flybe in return for the reborn Guernsey to Heathrow route.

It was revealed yesterday that Flybe would receive £825,000 in different forms for running the new route to the London airport. That £825,000 figure works out at £24 per seat over the seven month period in which the flights will be running – whether that seat is filled or not.

Deputy Peter Roffey is worried we may have overspent for little benefit.

‘On one hand I’ve always wanted to reestablish our link to Heathrow – it’s really the most important airport in the UK – and I’m delighted we will have some limited connectivity with it,’ he said.

‘The other side of me worries that actually we’ve overpaid for a fairly limited benefit just to prove to the community that we’re delivering on all of our promises of improved connectivity.

‘It [the subsidy] does equate to pretty much £1.5 million a year annualised for one rotation in the afternoon and probably the costs will be higher than that if it bleeds custom from our Gatwick route because Aurigny’s bottom line is our bottom line. The total cost could be a great deal for a limited benefit, but it’s committed to so I’m going to get behind it and I hope it succeeds.’

Deputy Charles Parkinson, the president of the Economic Development Committee, says this route will always require some level of subsidy.

‘The cost of setting up and operating at Heathrow is very high, and for a small sub-scale market like Guernsey, and small planes like the Dash 8 Q-400, the operation requires a subsidy.

‘We have had to help with route development support because this is a new operation which requires new marketing investment to help them set the route up,’ he explained.

‘At the moment we’ve given them some assistance with their start-up costs, and as the route becomes mature and the viability of the route is established it won’t require that sort of assistance.

‘Heathrow is a very expensive airport to operate to and so I think, it’s likely, that operations to Heathrow will always require some subsidy for a small carrier like Flybe and for a small market like Guernsey.’

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