|Company slogan||A Welcome Difference|
|Parent company||Blue Islands Limited|
|Headquarters||Saint Peter Port, Guernsey|
Blue Islands Limited is an airline of the Channel Islands. Its head office is in Le Bourg, Forest, Guernsey, and its registered office is in Saint Anne, Alderney. 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. It began in 2016, and its finish date is not scheduled currently. Originally, islanders expressed an amount of outrage at the agreement, however it does allow access to more destinations through the Flybe brand.
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. In 2004 ownership changed to Healthspan Leisure and in 2005, Jetstream aircraft were added to the fleet. 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. 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.
In 2010, the airline added an ATR 42-320 to its fleet. 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. Blue Islands announced that a full withdrawal from Alderney would take place on 9 May 2011 (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, and in April a route to Bristol was announced. Daily services were announced between Jersey and Manchester Airport in September, along with the restoration of a thrice-weekly service to Bournemouth Airport, 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. This was because they were 'too noisy, old and small'.
A Fokker 50 was wet-leased from Denim Air for the summer 2012 season, supplemented by another one of the same type 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. 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 was 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. 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. 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 begin Summer 2017, and be operated with an ATR 72. In September 2016, Blue Islands' ATR 42-500 suffered an engine failure at London City Airport.
A new ATR 72-500 arrived in Jersey in October 2016, to replace an ATR 42-320 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 was sold in 2017, and was be replaced by another ATR 72. Another ATR 42 left the fleet in October 2018. 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.
In October 2018, Blue Islands took delivery a fourth ATR 72-500, leaving only a single ATR 42. This aircraft is the first to be delivered during the Flybe franchise without Flybe colours; it sports a modified version of Blue Islands' original livery with smaller titles and a white belly.
Franchise deal with Flybe
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.
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. 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.
In December 2016, CICRA accused Blue Islands of contravening and potentially 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.
Competition with Waves
In January 2017, a Guernsey-based firm announced it would begin flying between Jersey and Guernsey, a route which Blue Islands and Flybe had a duopoly on at the time. The airline, named Waves, would operate Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft on an air-taxi style schedule, allowing people to instantly charter flights between the islands. The airline was originally seen as exempt from the islands' aviation licensing laws as it operated as an air taxi service.
In December 2017, Blue Islands sued Guernsey's Transport Licensing Authority over what it described as "inaction" over Waves. The airline believed that it didn't have the correct licenses as it was selling individual seats. Waves argued that it was still operating as an air-taxi service and not with scheduled services, so didn't require a license to sell seats. The TLA initially agreed with Waves, however Waves was declared as operating illegally in court and was forced to stop selling individual seats until the correct license was acquired.
Waves acquired the required licenses in March 2018, and restarted selling seats on the Guernsey-Jersey route, as well as seats on two new routes from Alderney. Due to decreasing passenger numbers and customers choosing to travel on Waves instead of on Blue Islands, the latter airline has called for the stipulations on its license to be removed, blaming the TLA's "disappointing decision" to allow Waves to compete.
As of November 2018, Blue Islands operates the following services:
|Liverpool||Liverpool John Lennon Airport||Seasonal|
|London||London City Airport|
|London Southend Airport|
|Newquay||Newquay Airport ||Seasonal|
|Rotterdam||Rotterdam The Hague Airport||Seasonal|
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 for CI Travel Group, as well flights between Jersey Airport and Cambridge Airport, Dundee Airport and London Oxford Airport. A Guernsey to Liverpool service was also planned for Summer 2016, however was cancelled.
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.
The Blue Islands fleet includes the following aircraft (as of February 2019).
|ATR 42-320||1||46||In new livery|
|ATR 72-500||4||68/70||2 in Flybe livery, 2 in new livery|
|Aircraft||Number operated||Years of service|
|BAe Jetstream 31||3||2006-2014|
Incidents and accidents
On 16 June 2012 an ATR 42-320 (Registration G-DRFC) operating flight number SI308 crashed on landing at Jersey Airport, suffering a collapse of the left main landing gear. The aircraft's left propeller and surfaces were damaged after striking the ground, subsequently writing the aircraft off. Aside from the 3 crew operating the flight, there were 40 passengers travelling on board. An investigation conducted by the Air Accident Investigation Branch found that the captain was conducting line training for a pilot who had recently joined the company and a 3g acceleration spike was recorded on touchdown, higher than usual. The investigation determined that fatigue sustained in the lifecycle of the landing gear led to a crack which ultimately resulted in complete failure of the left landing gear. Of the 40 passengers on board SI308, there were no injuries.
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- "London City air link for Jersey". 2 March 2011 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Blue Islands announces new route to Manchester". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- "Blue Islands starts new Bournemouth service". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- "Blue Islands selling off Trislander aircraft". BBC. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- "Blue Islands Is Selling Its Trislanders". Island FM. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- volaspheric: http://volaspheric.blogspot.de/2012/06/blue-islands-replaces-damaged-atr-42.html Blue Islands replaces damaged ATR 42
- "Accident: Blue Islands AT42 at Jersey on Jun 16th 2012, gear collapse". avherald.com.
- "Direct flights to Paris & Amsterdam in 2013". Channelonline.tv. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Flightradar24. "Flightradar24.com - Live flight tracker!". Flightradar24.
- "Blue Island bosses answer your questions".
- "Blue Islands adds larger ATR 72 aircraft to Jersey base". www.aviationtribune.com.
- "Blue Islands plane damaged by storm".
- "Blue Islands flights to be run through Flybe".
- "Anger and concern after Blue Islands disruption".
- "Competition watchdog to question Blue Islands/Flybe franchise".
- Express, Bailiwick. "Airlines investigated for potential competition law breach".
- "Forget taxis, now you can order a plane".
- "Blue Islands – 'Waves is operating illegally'". guernseypress.com.
- "Waves defends 'air taxi' status after Blue Islands calls for judicial review". jerseyeveningpost.com.
- Express, Bailiwick. "Waves drops 'on demand' ticket service after legal dispute".
- "Blue Islands wants to limit inter-island flights".
- "Timetable". blueislands.com.
- "Blue Islands brings flights to Guernsey from LJLA for Summer 2019". liverpoolairport.com.
- "New direct Guernsey service for Glasgow holidaymakers - Blue Islands". www.blueislands.com.
- "Blue Islands to operate flights from Cambridge and Dundee to Jersey and Guernsey". aviationtribune.com.
- "Blue Islands brings Jersey service back to London Oxford". 14 May 2014.
- "New Liverpool-Guernsey flight route". 16 November 2018 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Blue Islands to operate 2016 Zurich Charter service - Blue Islands". www.blueislands.com.
- "Plane crash investigation begins". 17 June 2012 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
Media related to Blue Islands at Wikimedia Commons