DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Channel Island-based Rockhopper was rebranded as Blue Islands (SI) in 2006, continuing to fly to the UK from its bases in Guernsey (GCI) and Jersey (JER).
The British regional carrier started its life back in 1999 as Le Cocq’s Air Link. It used a fleet of Britten Norman Islanders to supply perishable goods from the UK mainland to the Channel Island of Alderney (ACI).
After a successful launch, SI moved to passenger flights on February 1, 2002. By the end of the first year of operations, 10,000 passengers had been carried.
On August 29, 2003, the company was rebranded as Rockhopper. This came about as the airline expanded its inter-island offering to break the monopoly held by rival Aurigny (GR). Twenty thousand passengers were carried in the first year.
Healthspan Leisure, a Guernsey-based supplements and leisure company, became the new owner in 2004. Its headquarters were moved from Alderney to Guernsey, and the route network expanded.
A further name change to Blue Islands was implemented in 2006. This coincided with the arrival of its first BAe Jetstream 32 and a new route to the Isle of Man (IOM). SI used the type to introduce a new hourly shuttle service between Guernsey (GCI) and Jersey (JER), known as the Blue Shuttle. Sixty-three thousand, five hundred passengers were carried in 2006.
A fleet renewal plan saw the introduction of the ATR-42 in 2009. This was joined by the larger 68-seat ATR-72 in 2013, coinciding with a new high-frequency link between Guernsey (GCI) and Southampton (SOU). By 2014, SI’s realized its plan of being an all-ATR operator.
On June 6, 2016, SI introduced a franchise with the now-defunct Flybe (BE). This saw the SI’s ATRs painted in the BE livery and its sales channels utilized. BE’s collapse in March 2020 led to SI going it alone. The airline has continued to go from strength to strength, taking over many of the former BE Channel Island routes.
Featured image: An updated livery was introduced after its franchise with Flybe ended. (Photo: Blue Islands)