ManxATP From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 37 posts, RR: 0 Posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 5526 times:
After finishing my first year uni exams and working for a few weeks to replenish my finances I decided to take a trip to Guernsey (… for the day!). The main purpose was to visit a friend from uni and just to have a bit of an escape.
I looked at flights with FlyBE and Aurigny from Gatwick. My friend Gina had warned me that the weather in Guernsey often causes delays and that I should come by boat. Not being one to miss the opportunity to fly, I ignored her sound advice and went looking for prices anyway. After an exchange of emails Aurigny said they would allow me to rebook for another weekend if the weather caused delays and so despite being the more expensive I went for the Channel Islands airline.
At an ungodly hour of the morning (04.45) I got out of bed, feeling utterly grouchy and wretched I made the drive to the long stay parking at Gatwick. For once the M25 was fairly clear and I got there with plenty of time to catch the courtesy bus to the South Terminal. Gatwick was thronging with holiday makers whilst I waited for check-in to open. I was checked in for the both the outbound and return flights at Gatwick as I was making a day return. After queuing at security I was able to take advantage of the duty free available to Channel Islands passengers to stock up on some Remy Martin. I then sat in the busy shopping area for the gate to be announced. This seemed to take for ever and was eventually displayed on screens about 15mins prior to boarding. The flight was allocated one of the domestic gates at ground level and so this meant I got a good view of the bright yellow bird walking across the tarmac to climb aboard.
I made my way up the steep steps at the back of the ATR72 and was greeted by one of the two female cabin crew. I was one of the last passengers on board and made the way to my seat at the front of the cabin. It was occupied by somebody else and the other FA just pointed to another seat and said sit there (making me understand why my seat was taken in the first place). The last of the baggage was loaded and the FA’s made a pre-departure checks of the cabin. The pilot then came on an explained there would be some delays because of congestion but this could be made up en-route. We taxied out and after waiting about twenty minutes positioned onto the runway. After a short while the engines powered up and swiftly lifted the nearly full aircraft off the ground.
Once we were a cruising altitude the cabin crew began service, offering fruit juice and alpen bars. This was followed by the run with the duty free trolley before service was finished. After about 40 mins in the air the flight crew came on and told us we were about the begin decent to the island. The time had gone quickly as my mind was whisked away by the pages of En Voyage, the Aurigny magazine. It was with some incredulity that I had read how a man from the Forest (a parish in Guernsey) launched the Costa Rican coffee industry. I was equally incredulous that Aurigny listed every aircraft it had operated over the last few years as its present fleet (claiming 8 Trilanders, 3 Saab 340, 2 Shorts 360-200 and 3 ATR72) leading me to doubt the journalistic credentials of the whole publication. (OK .. perhaps I am just getting a bit carried away, this is after all an in-flight mag). Anyway before long, as the pilot had promised, I was enjoying spectacular views of Guernsey’s green pastures dotted by greenhouses and great mansions (my friend assures me its not only millionaires living there) as we lost altitude. Before long the wheels had made touch with the runway and the engines began to slow the plane down. After a period of heavy braking, the engines suddenly sped up and the plane raced to the end of the runway and onto the taxiway up to the small terminal.
I was met by my friend and had a fabulous day as she showed me the highlights of her island. Despite the hair-raising little roads we drove the whole way round the island after having lunch in St Peter Port. I was able to indulge in the local gastronomic delights, and it was laden with Guernsey Gache (a local tea bread like brioche) that I returned to Guernsey States Airport 20 mins prior to my flight.
After reporting to the bright yellow, puffin adorned, desks of Aurigny Air Services I went straight through security and to the gate for boarding. The return flight was much quieter with about 45 pax (capacity 64) and after the safety briefing the FA’s (one male, one female) took their seats. One FA sits at the front to the cabin which is sectioned off from the cockpit by the hold. There is a seat which slides out from the side for them to use during take-off and landing. After a short take-off roll we were airborne flying of St Peter Port and Vale before heading across the English Channel. Service was similar to before with fruit juice and savoury snacks. This time I partook from the duty free with a bottle of vodka and passed the time chatting with the lady next to me.
The flight was smooth albeit for the vibration of the engines. The aforementioned lady next to me had a cup of tea that kept sloshing with the vibrations of the aircraft. She told me how she didn’t like a small airline like Aurigny and that her landing into GCI had been very bumpy. Dark clouds began to appear outside, but by this time we were on final descent and ahead of the storm. We gracefully touched down on the runway, 20 mins ahead of schedule and taxied to the stand for debarkation.
Overall I was impressed with Aurigny and their reliability (esp given the susceptibility to weather). The flights were quick and comfortable and despite being fairly expensive (£110 rtn) were reasonable value for money, given the expensiveness of Jersey and Guernsey. I definitely hope to go back to the CI’s soon, who knows - perhaps on a Bergerac pilgrimage to Jersey! (sad I know )
SpeedbirdEGJJ From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2003, 437 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 5450 times:
Thanks for the nice report. Its always nice to see people visiting the CI (even if it was the wrong island )
Aurigny of late appear to me to be losing their way somewhat. I used to travel with them mainly inter-island about 30 sectors a year, but they chased the pot at the end of the rainbow to some extent snapping up as many CI-UK routes as they could and allowing their core inter island business to be cherry picked by the competition. This reduction in frequency and the sometimes downright rudeness of the staff and service means that i now fly Rockhopper whenever the timings permit.
Their main problem was that although the service offered was OK, it was nothing special, the aircraft (to Joe public) appeared to be inferior to BE's 146's and Q400's and BA's 735's and ERJ's. This coupled with the fact that outside of the CI and our type of people nobody has ever bloody heard of them, and they did little to raise their profile on the mainland. Their 'flagship' route to LGW from GCI inherited (of sorts) from BA suffers from lack of a frequent flyer programme and a decent level of corporate dealing, both factors that the business pax, especially high yield ones look for, and would certianly expect when downgrading from a 146 to an AT7 for little more serivce.
Anyhow, i'm glad you enjoyed your trip, maybe some time in the future try Jersey, be sure to give me a shout if you need any advice or help.
Eurohub From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 259 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 5438 times:
Quoting ManxATP (Thread starter): Overall I was impressed with Aurigny and their reliability (esp given the susceptibility to weather). The flights were quick and comfortable and despite being fairly expensive (£110 rtn) were reasonable value for money
I took a holiday with the gf in Guernsey earlier this month (Aug) and with about 6 weeks notice picked up fares of £54 return (inc taxes) LGW-GCI - cheaper than Flybe. Nice trip and friendly crew - there was congestion on our approach into GCI so the Captain did a mini-tour and pointed out the sights, a nice touch indeed.
Forget A vs B - Give me E or BAe any day of the week!
ManxATP From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 37 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 5379 times:
Thanks for you comments and cheers for the offer of advice on Jersey!
I have to agree with SpeedbirdEGJJ about the loss of direction at Aurigny. I guess part of the problem was being taken over by the Guernsey states. With all the scrutiny of how tax payers money is spent there was little political will to allow Aurigny to experiment and make losses. The was probably esp true of routes ex Jersey where the Guernsey taxpayer would be providing the subsidy. Aurigny was 'nationalised' to secure the Gatwick link and this is the only was it could legitimately incur losses.
On the other hand I think Aurigny could successfully expand operations. I think there must be a considerable opportunity cost for FlyBE of using a 146 that could otherwise be used for longer sun routes. I guess the justification comes from the high(ish) yields that result from undercapacity. If Aurigny could play on this by adding capacity, FlyBE would be in a weaker competetive position (as they feared they would be when Aurigny was taken over, see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3023161.stm ). It'll be interesting to see where things go from here.
SpeedbirdEGJJ From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2003, 437 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 3 days ago) and read 5362 times:
I think the reason the 146 is so popular with BE is that their loads are quite high and the 146 is ideal in as much as it offers 100+ Capacity and the ability to operate in GCI year round. One of the main reasons BA pulled GCI was lack of suitable aircraft. When the ATR's were retired and the ARJ's farmed out to the regions there was nothing to fill the gap, with a 735 only able to operate with payload restrictions.
I do agree though the potential is there, i just think they need a little more focus on the few routes they have already MAN/GCI and most importantly invest in raising their profile in the UK. Not an easy task though, especially with growing scepticism from the GCI public!!! especially after their image was severlely dented by route cancellations at short notice, frequent tech delays and the perception that the AT7 is inferior to the 146.
Personally i think with some sound marketing on the mainland, a better attitude to corporate discounts, and an emphasis on consolidation and strengthening rather than flash in the pan expansion the potential is there, and after all, the last thing the states of Guernsey want is a Flybe monopoly either!.
BAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (10 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5314 times:
Nice report. I've flown to and from GCI many times, but only ever with British European/flyBE (and BA & Air UK back in the day), so it was nice to hear what Aurigny's LGW-GCI service is like. I'm heading back down there again some time in late September (although for work, unfortunately) so may give Aurigny a try instead this time, especially as I won't be paying for the ticket!
I have flown with them on their inter-island Trislander service a number of times, but as you know, no aisle means no cabin service!
Quoting ManxATP (Thread starter): It was occupied by somebody else and the other FA just pointed to another seat and said sit there
Sounds like the typical laid back Guernsey attitude to me - one of the reasons I love the place so much!
Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb