DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Aurigny Air Services (GR) was acquired for £5m by the States of Guernsey in 2003.
The deal came after British Airways (BA) announced it was to end its service to London Gatwick (LGW). The States of Guernsey said that the London route needed to be safeguarded as it was critical to the island’s prosperity.
The States of Guernsey, sometimes referred to as the Government of Guernsey, is the parliament and government of the British Crown’s dependency of Guernsey. By bringing the airline into public ownership, GR could now receive financial subsidies. This meant it could take over the London route and ensure its continuity.
Rival carriers Flybe (BE) and Blue Islands (SI) stated that the deal would breach European law. Both accused the island’s politicians of “unjustified state aid.” However, as Guernsey is outside the EU, they could not involve the European Commission, and the deal went ahead.
Aurigny, whose name is drawn from the Norman word for Alderney, can trace its history back to March 1968. British United Airways (BR) decided to end its Guernsey (GCI)-Alderney route. Worried that Alderney would be cut off, Sir Derrick Bailey chose to found his own airline and take over the route.
Using the Britten-Norman Islander, the airline launched scheduled flights from GCI to the surrounding Channel Islands, England, and France. 45,000 passengers were carried in the first year.
In July 1971, GR became the first commercial airline to fly the Britten-Norman Trislander. It would become the largest operator of the type in the world, retiring its last example in 2015. The Trislander would be replaced by the Dornier 228.
In June 2014, the airline joined the jet age when it received an Embraer E195. GR put the jet to use on the Guernsey-Gatwick link after BE dropped the route.
The twinjet aircraft is the largest aircraft in the fleet, with a capacity of 122 passengers. The flag carrier also operates four ATRs to help serve its UK and European destinations. GR operates out of LGW’s South Terminal.
Featured image: Aurigny Air Service G-VZON ATR 72-500 stored at Gran Canaria Airport: Pablo Gonzalez/Airways