Blue Islands launch extended summer schedule

Blue Islands has recently extended its on-sale schedule for next summer to cover the whole of the summer school holiday period for 2021.

With the extension, Channel Islanders can now plan and book their travel choosing the airline’s Blue Plus fare which includes flexibility, seat choice and a two-suitcase allowance as standard.

In Summer 2021 Blue Islands will operate direct services from Jersey to Southampton, Birmingham, East Midlands, Bristol, Exeter, Newquay and Guernsey. Southampton and Guernsey will be served up to five times a day, with twice a day services in the peak season to Birmingham. Services to Bristol, Exeter and East Midlands will fly daily; and Newquay will operate three times a week.

The airline will increase services from Guernsey to up to five times a day on both Guernsey to Southampton and the Inter-Island service to Jersey.

Commenting on the extension and additional flights for summer 2021, Rob Veron, Blue Islands CEO, said: ‘The latest schedule release means that flights are on sale through to the end of the school summer holidays in 2021. Customers can now plan and book next summer’s holiday, securing great fares by booking early. You can also make reservations with confidence in the knowledge of flexibility when choosing our Blue Plus fares where there are no change fees (although fare difference may apply) plus 2 x 23kg hold luggage, complimentary seat selection and double frequent flyer points. And finally, you will also be booking with the island’s only home-based carrier airline that also has the financial support of the Government of Jersey. We are looking forward to once-again serving Jersey and Guernsey with high-frequency flights.’

Prices start from under £50.00 one-way, including hold luggage. In addition to direct destinations, Blue Islands now offers connecting services on its network and via its codeshare partner Loganair; to Dublin, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Blue Islands to return to Bristol Airport in August

Channel Islands airline Blue Islands is returning to Bristol Airport on August 3.

The airline has launched a new brand identity, new routes, new website and a new product offering. Tickets with new fare options have also gone on sale at blueislands.com. Customers are being invited to sign up to the airline’s new Blue Skies Club frequent flyer programme.

Announcing the launch, Rob Veron, CEO Blue Islands, said, ‘We have been working really hard behind the scenes over the past few months with the aim of re-emerging, post pandemic, stronger and better than ever. We look forward to serving the Channel Islands again with extensive Guernsey schedules to Jersey, Southampton and beyond, together with our services from Jersey to Bristol, Southampton and new routes Birmingham and Exeter.

‘Channel Islanders told us that they want flying to be simple and easy again with no hidden costs and stresses over bag restrictions. We’ve listened, taking all the ideas onboard, and we are proud to announce our new product offering, refreshed brand identity and new website. No gotcha’s, we are focussed on simplifying regional air travel, making sure that our product and service offerings, are uniquely tailored to the needs of our passengers. Whether flying for business or leisure we are making flying a pleasure again and we know that it’s the little things that matter and make the welcome difference.’

Blue Islands, formerly a Flybe franchisee, had re-established itself as an independent carrier after the collapse of Flybe in March. While the islands have been in lock-down to contain the virus spread, Blue Islands has provided lifeline services for Jersey, operating essential flights to both Southampton and Gatwick.

‘[This] is just the beginning. There will be more announcements in the coming days and weeks ahead. We would like to encourage everyone to explore our new website and fare options, plus learn about the wellbeing measures we have implemented. Sign up for regular updates and also register for our Blue Skies Club, our new frequent flyer programme that will truly reward our regular customers. We are very much looking forward to welcoming our passengers onboard soon,’ Mr Veron added.

Competition regulator bars Eurotunnel’s ferry service

The UK’s Competition Commission is to force Eurotunnel’s MyFerryLink cross-Channel ferry service to cease operating from Dover.

The Commission has ruled that Eurotunnel’s interest in the ferry operation, which began last year when it purchased three ferries from bankrupt cross-Channel provider, SeaFrance, could be detrimental to passenger prices. Operating the Channel Tunnel and a ferry service would provide Eurotunnel with more than 50 percent of the Dover-Calais market and as a result prices would rise, the Commission stated.

The Commission also found that the prime reason for Eurotunnel’s purchase of the ferries was to prevent its cross-channel competitor, DFDS/LD lines from buying them. The Commission’s report said, ‘Eurotunnel was concerned that if DFDS/LD obtained the assets cheaply, it could drive down prices for customers.’

If the Commission failed to take action against Eurotunnel, it feared that one of the three present operators on the Dover to Calais route would be likely to leave the market, and Eurotunnel’s share would grow larger still. In order to ensure that the ferries will not be operated by a company with an interest in the rail service, Eurotunnel will be given a limited amount of time to sell the two biggest vessels to competitive purchasers.

Alasdair Smith, chairman of the Eurotunnel/SeaFrance inquiry group and Competition Commission deputy chairman, stated, ‘It cannot be good for competition when Eurotunnel, which already holds a market share of over 40 percent, moves into the ferry business – particularly when it did so to stop a competitor from buying the ferries. Customers would lose out from Eurotunnel increasing its share even further and being able to raise prices on the tunnel services.

‘In view of the current excess capacity on the Dover-Calais route, it also seems likely that one of the current ferry operators will exit in the short term if we don’t take action.

‘Customers will be better off if there are two independent ferry companies competing with the tunnel than if one of the two is owned by Eurotunnel. By preventing Eurotunnel from operating ferry services out of Dover, we can protect the interests of customers.

‘We did consider ordering Eurotunnel to sell the ferries but we were conscious of the uncertainties and possible delays affecting a sale. We can achieve the same outcome this way and it should be clear that we will not be diverted from ensuring the best result for customers.’

Eurotunnel responded that the ruling was ‘incomprehensible and seriously disproportionate’, and its chairman and chief executive, Jacques Gounon, commented, ‘This decision by the Competition Commission will reduce the choice of services across the Straits of Dover to the detriment of the consumer. It will inevitably lead to an increase in the price of a crossing.’

The company has pledged to appeal the ruling.