Blue Islands

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Blue Islands
Blue islands logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
SI[1] BCI BLUE ISLAND
Founded
  • 1999 (as Le Cocq's Airlink)
  • 2003 (as Rockhopper)
  • 2006 (as Blue Islands)
  • 2016 (as Flybe Franchise)
Operating bases
Fleet size 5
Destinations 8
Company slogan A Welcome Difference
Parent company Blue Islands Limited
Headquarters Saint Peter Port, Guernsey
Key people
Website blueislands.com

Blue Islands Limited is an airline of the Channel Islands. Its head office is in Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, and its registered office is in Saint Anne, Alderney.[2] It operates scheduled services from and within the Channel Islands to the United Kingdom and Europe. Its main bases of operation are Guernsey Airport and Jersey Airport.

Blue Islands Flights now operate under the Flybe brand, following a franchise deal between the two airlines.[3]

History[edit]

The airline was formally established in 2001 (but had been operating since 1999 as a small operation) by Le Cocq's Stores in Alderney and was initially known as Le Cocq's Airlink. It started operations carrying perishable goods from Bournemouth in the south of England to the island of Alderney. Scheduled services were added on the same route on 1 February 2002. The trading name Rockhopper was adopted on 29 August 2003.[4] In 2004 ownership changed to Healthspan Leisure and in 2005, Jetstream aircraft were added to the fleet.[5] The company moved its main operating base from Alderney to Jersey in January 2006. Its headquarters is now at Healthspan House, The Grange, St. Peter Port, Guernsey. The airline is wholly owned by the Healthspan Group.[4] The company changed the trading name from Rockhopper to Blue Islands on 14 February 2006. This move coincided with the delivery of the first of its new fleet of 19-seater BAe Jetstream 31 aircraft and a new air link with the Isle of Man.

The deployment of the BAe Jetstream aircraft on some Guernsey-Jersey services meant Blue Islands gained a majority share of the market from its competitor (according to Airliner World magazine), helped by the introduction of an hourly shuttle service between Guernsey and Jersey known as the Blue Shuttle. In December 2007 Blue Islands' share of the inter-island market was estimated to be over 50%, and in December 2009 its market share had risen to 68%. Blue Islands went on to launch new routes from the Channel Islands to Beauvais–Tillé (ceased July 2008), Southampton, Geneva and Zurich. A Dornier 328-110 (leased from ScotAirways) was added to the fleet in 2007. However, by late 2010 its market share on the Guernsey-Jersey route had fallen to below 50% and its main competitor Aurigny was regaining much ground in the Channel Islands market.[6]

In 2010, the airline added an ATR 42-320 to its fleet.[5] It emerged in July 2010 that Blue Islands had launched a bid with the States of Guernsey to buy its competitor, Aurigny. This caused much controversy in the Channel Islands, and a Facebook page in opposition to the proposed buy-out gained nearly 600 members. Those in favour of the deal claimed that it did not make sense for the two individual airlines to continue to make such large losses whilst operating in competition with each other. The failure of the deal was announced on 14 September 2010, amidst doubts over the security of Guernsey's slots at Gatwick Airport.

A number of changes took place in 2011. Rob Veron was appointed as managing director and the Trislander fleet was repainted and refitted for a planned new hub at Alderney with routes to Southampton and Cherbourg, however the application was denied because the start date was within six months of the application date.[7] Blue Islands announced that a full withdrawal from Alderney would take place on 9 May 2011[8] (coincidentally Liberation Day), after 11 years of services.

In March 2011, it announced a twice-daily weekday route (with a once-daily flight on Sundays) from Jersey to London City Airport,[9] and in April a route to Bristol was announced. Daily services were announced between Jersey and Manchester Airport[10] in September, along with the restoration of a thrice-weekly service to Bournemouth Airport,[11] in competition with the airline's own more regular services to Southampton, as well as those of Flybe. In November the planned retirement of the Trislander fleet was made public, with the last day of operations to be 4 December.[12] This was because they were 'too noisy, old and small'.[13]

ATR 42-320 at Bristol Airport, England (2016)

A Fokker 50 was wet-leased from Denim Air for the summer 2012 season, supplemented by another one of the same type[14] when, on 16 June 2012, a Blue Islands ATR 42-300 registered G-DRFC operating from Guernsey to Jersey suffered a collapse of the left main landing gear while exiting the runway. None of the 43 people on board were injured in the accident.[15] Blue Islands applied to the States of Guernsey for a licence to operate a twice-daily Guernsey-Bristol service in competition with Aurigny. A licence hearing was due to take place in January 2013 regarding the application. The application has been withdrawn as Blue Islands wishes to concentrate on building the Jersey base.

To further supplement its fleet Blue Islands purchased an ATR 42-320 from Air Atlantique Assistance, entering service on 23 August 2012. Blue Islands announced winter service from Jersey to Chambéry in August 2012, and in October it announced services to Amsterdam and Paris which would start in February 2013.[16] A further ATR 42-320, registered G-ISLH, entered service in July 2013 and in December 2013 a ATR 72-500, registered G-ISLI, was damp leased from Nordic Aviation Capital to provide extra capacity on the Guernsey Airport - Southampton Airport service. The latter aircraft type is now replacing the ATR 42 fleet.

Blue Islands retired one of their ATR 42-320s in July 2016, due to many mechanical issues.[17] An ATR 42-500 was leased in August on a short-term basis from Danish Air Transport until the arrival of the new ATR 72-500. The airline also applied for a licence to operate a service between Guernsey Airport and Cardiff Airport, which will began in May 2017.[18] In September 2016, Blue Islands' ATR 42-500 suffered an engine failure at London City Airport.

The new ATR 72-500, G-ISLK, arrived in Jersey in October 2016, to replace the ATR 42-320, G-ISLG, which was retired. The new aircraft can seat up to 68 passengers and was the second aircraft to be painted in the Flybe livery. Another ATR 42-320, G-ZEBS, was sold to Fleet Air in 2017, and was be replaced by another ATR 72, registered G-ISLL.[19] The ATR 42 fleet is currently being phased out, in favour of the ATR 72-500.

In November 2016, one of Blue Islands' ATR 72's was damaged by Storm Angus whilst parked at Guernsey Airport. A piece of airport equipment hit the aircraft, leaving a large dent in its fuselage. An ATR 72-200 was leased from Danish Air Transport as a backup aircraft.[20]

In January 2017, Blue Islands took delivery of a third ATR 72-500, registered G-ISLL.

In April 2017, Skyworld Aviation was selected as the seller for Blue Islands' ATR 42-500, registered G-ISLF.

Franchise deal with Flybe[edit]

In January 2016, Blue Islands revealed their franchise deal with Flybe, which allowed Blue Islands to operate their flights in Flybe branded aircraft. Flybe branded flights began 6 June 2016.[21]

In July 2016, Blue Islands was heavily criticized by the States of Jersey and Guernsey after several aircraft were found to have technical problems, causing high numbers of delays and cancellations. This caused weeks of disruption to Blue Islands' services and meetings with States officials to put measures into place to prevent events like this to occur again.[22] CICRA (the Channel Islands competition watchdog) wrote a letter to the airline, asking them to address the measures and the benefits of the franchise deal with Flybe.[23]

In December 2016, CICRA accused Blue Islands of contravening and potentally breaking the Channel Islands' competition laws through the Flybe franchise deal. The watchdog says that the deal "...may have restricted competitive choices, including schedules and which routes the competitors can fly." They say that the airline's response to its letter was not satisfactory and has now started a full investigation into the airline and the franchise.[24]

Destinations[edit]

Blue Islands operates the following services:

Base
Focus city
City Country IATA ICAO Airport Ref Notes
Bristol United Kingdom BRS EGGD Bristol Airport [25]
Cardiff United Kingdom CWL EGFF Cardiff Airport [25] Seasonal
Geneva Switzerland GVA LSGG Geneva Airport [25] Seasonal
Guernsey Guernsey GCI EGJB Guernsey Airport [25] Base
Jersey Jersey JER EGJJ Jersey Airport [25] Hub
London United Kingdom LCY EGLC London City Airport [25] Focus city
Southampton United Kingdom SOU EGHI Southampton Airport [25] Focus city
Zürich Switzerland ZRH LSZH Zürich International Airport [25] Seasonal charter

Charters[edit]

Blue Islands is commonly chosen by Travel Companies and Tour Operators to operate charter flights on their behalf. The airline has developed a close partnership with the CI Travel Group, and have operated many charters for them. The airline has previously operated flights between Guernsey Airport and Glasgow Airport[26] for CI Travel Group, as well flights between Jersey Airport and Cambridge Airport, Dundee Airport[27] and London Oxford Airport.[28] A Guernsey to Liverpool service was also planned for Summer 2016, however was cancelled.[29]

In 2016, Rolf Meier Reisen selected Blue Islands to operate several charter flights between Jersey Airport and Zürich Airport during the Summer season. This route was extended in Summer 2017 to include Guernsey Airport, and is currently operated with Blue Islands' ATR 42-500.[30]

Fleet[edit]

Current fleet[edit]

Blue Islands ATR 42-320

The Blue Islands fleet includes the following aircraft (as of March 2017).[31]

Current fleet
Aircraft In fleet Orders Passengers
ATR 42-320 1 46
ATR 42-500 1 48
ATR 72-500 3 66
68
Total 5 0

Retired aircraft[edit]

Former Blue Islands BAe Jetstream 31
Retired fleet
Aircraft Number retired Years of service
ATR 42-320 3 2010-2017
BAe Jetstream 31 3 2006-2014
Britten-Norman Trislander 3 2001-2011
Britten-Norman Islander 4 1999-2011
Dornier 328 1 2007-2009
Fokker 50 2 2012

References[edit]

  1. ^ "IATA - Airline and Airport Code Search". iata.org. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Contact Us." Blue Islands. Retrieved on 18 September 2009. "Head Office Our head office is in St. Peter Port, Guernsey, which deals with marketing, PR and media relations and trade enquiries."
  3. ^ "Channel Islands airline Blue Islands signs Flybe deal". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-05-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-03-27. p. 87. 
  5. ^ a b "UK & Ireland Airlines Guide 2011". Airliner World: 5. March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Aurigny grows its share of the air travel market"http://www.ifcfeed.com/guernsey-articles/Aurigny-grows-its-share-of-the-air-travel-market.aspx
  7. ^ "Blue Islands new route is refused by Alderney States". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Blue Islands pulls out of Alderney routes". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  9. ^ new London-City route
  10. ^ "Blue Islands announces new route to Manchester". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "Blue Islands starts new Bournemouth service". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "Blue Islands selling off Trislander aircraft". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "Blue Islands Is Selling Its Trislanders". Island FM. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  14. ^ volaspheric: http://volaspheric.blogspot.de/2012/06/blue-islands-replaces-damaged-atr-42.html Blue Islands replaces damaged ATR 42
  15. ^ http://avherald.com/h?article=4513b280&opt=0
  16. ^ "Direct flights to Paris & Amsterdam in 2013". Channelonline.tv. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  17. ^ https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/si6#a7caf13
  18. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/channel/2016-08-04/blue-island-bosses-answer-your-questions/
  19. ^ http://www.aviationtribune.com/airlines/europe/blue-islands-adds-larger-atr-72-aircraft-jersey-base/
  20. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/channel/update/2016-11-20/blue-islands-plane-left-out-of-action-due-to-storm-damage/
  21. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/channel/update/2016-01-11/blue-islands-flights-to-be-run-through-flybe/
  22. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/channel/story/2016-08-05/anger-and-concern-after-blue-islands-disruption/
  23. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/channel/update/2016-09-19/competition-watchdog-to-question-blue-islands-flybe-franchise/
  24. ^ http://www.bailiwickexpress.com/jsy/news/bi/?t=i#.WFPUrVxqhsB
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  26. ^ https://www.blueislands.com/flying-with-us/news/news-stories/new-direct-guernsey-service-for-glasgow-holidaymakers
  27. ^ http://aviationtribune.com/airlines/europe/blue-islands-to-operate-flights-from-cambridge-and-dundee-to-jersey-and-guernsey/
  28. ^ http://www.anna.aero/2014/05/14/blue-islands-brings-jersey-service-back-london-oxford/
  29. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-guernsey-35398972
  30. ^ https://www.blueislands.com/flying-with-us/news/news-stories/blue-islands-to-operate-2016-zurich-charter-service
  31. ^ http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?catid=1&pagetype=65&appid=1&mode=summary&owner=blue%20islands

Further reading[edit]

  • Pinnegar, Edward (July 2010). A History of Aviation in Alderney. Amberley Publishing, Stroud. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-84868-981-7. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Blue Islands at Wikimedia Commons