Guernsey’s state-owned airline could launch more services from Ronaldsway including a Gatwick link if a deal between the Manx government and Aurigny is signed.
The airline is operating flights between Ronaldsway and the Channel island as part of the air bridge established as both islands are Covid-19 free.
But iomtoday understands that a proposal to operate a Gatwick route, with Manx taxpayer support, is on the table - if the price is right.
Howard Quayle told BBC Guernsey while on holiday in the Bailiwick that if a deal can be done, it would be ’fairly imminent’.
The Chief Minister added: ’I’ve asked Minister for Infrastructure Tim Baker and Minister for Enterprise Laurence Skelly, who was here with his wife last week, to meet with the Aurigny team to see if a good deal can be negotiated.
’Obviously, we’re supportive of that and I expected to get a report back in the first week of September for the Council of Ministers to make a decision on.’
He told iomtoday that Aurigny has spare capacity, including slots at Gatwick, and that the airline has approached the Manx government with an offer to provide more services from the Isle of Man.
Mr Quayle said that government was looking to do a deal with an airline to provide routes that were viable pre-Covid-19 but are no longer due to the pandemic to ensure that air links are retained.
Since Flybe collapsed and, with EasyJet and Aer Lingus still yet to return to the island, the only airline other than Aurigny operating out of Ronaldsway remains Loganair.
The Scottish airline is operating the Liverpool, Manchester and London City flights to and from Ronaldsway. It is understood that the London City route is also subsidised by the Manx government.
Any deal to launch a Gatwick service would likely be only short term until the island’s border restrictions are lifted - but that could be some months away.
With the airline industry in turmoil, questions have been raised about the future viability of routes and whether the Manx government should consider setting up its own airline.
Mr Quayle told the Examiner: ’As a government we have to ensure we have good air links for our businesses and our people.’
Terry Liddiard, the former chief executive of Manx Airlines, is among those to champion the concept of a state-owned operator.
But Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan, who negotiated the purchase of the Steam Packet, has warned against rushing in on either buying in or investing in an airline in the island.
He said: ’I’m not that keen personally to invest taxpayers’ money into air travel. I think that’s much better run by privateers and by private industry.
’But if there is a strong argument in the future that the island will now benefit from having secured air travel via either a share or a whole share in an airline then we will carefully consider it.’