Channel Islands based airline, Blue Islands, will close its routes from Jersey to Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich in favour of a codeshare partnership with Irish regional carrier CityJet via London City Airport. The flights on the international routes to Europe will cease from January 5, 2015, but the carrier will boost frequencies to the UK capital around the same time to offer enhanced connections via its new partner.
Currently Blue Islands operate alternate day direct flights from Jersey to Amsterdam and Paris and twice weekly services to Zurich, which customers, especially the high yield business travellers that help support regional air links, find inconvenient. The CityJet link will provide the opportunity for daily services to Amsterdam, Paris as well as introducing new connection opportunities to Dublin, Antwerp and Rotterdam.
The schedule also means that day returns to Amsterdam and Paris from Jersey will now possible from Jersey and passengers will also benefit from APD (Air Passenger Duty) savings when booking connecting flights through the codeshare.
"Passengers will immediately have access to three new European cities on our network together with Amsterdam and Paris, significantly more frequency, and greater flexibility,” said Rob Veron, managing director, Blue Islands.
The new third rotation to London City will commence in early 2015, with the exact dates to be announced in the coming weeks as schedules are finalised. It will operate at lunchtime with departures from Jersey around 13:00 and from London City around 14:40 and will introduce 25,000 more seats per year into this market.
“The extra flight to London City means there is more choice when visiting London for half day trips to the City when needed," added Veron.
Blue Islands’ codeshare agreement with CityJet is an exciting development in the airline’s network. Despite the loss of the direct air services, it will offer an improved level of frequency and a far greater choice for convenient travel days than currently available. It also enables the airline to rationalise its international network and fleet, although it will continue to offer direct flights to Geneva during the ski season.
“While direct flights are always good, we believe this new product offering will be more popular given the significant improvement in connection possibilities through London City Airport,” said Doug Bannister, group chief executive officer for Ports of Jersey.
“We view mainland Europe as a growth opportunity for Jersey and are pleased that one of our partner airlines, Blue Islands, has responded with a strong offering that should be attractive to local residents as well as incoming visitors travelling for both business and leisure purposes," he added.
Blue Islands is currently working to streamline its operation around an all ATR fleet and it recently sold it two remaining BAe Jetstream aircraft, resulting in the closure of its route to Southampton until further notice. This may simply be just a seasonal move and it may reinstate the service in summer 2015 when demand can sustain the use of the larger ATR aircraft.
The regional carrier is currently the sole operator between Jersey and Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich, although Flybe did previously offer a regular link to the French capital from the Channel Islands, but closed the route in January 2011. Blue Islands first introduced the Zurich route in winter 2008 and has been serving the Swiss city continuously since April 2010. It added the link to Amsterdam and Paris in February 2013.
In the chart, below, we look at bi-directional O&D demand between Jersey and these three international markets over the course of the past two years. This data clearly highlights the low demand levels and the important role frequency would play in insuring high yields are maintained to make such routes sustainable.
This local traffic will be supported by some transfer passengers on all three routes, although data for 2013 shows the point-to-point demand has the dominant share - 96.1 per cent from Jersey to Amsterdam, 90.2 per cent from Jersey to Paris and 94.1 per cent from Jersey to Zurich.