C Le Ray Esq
23 April 2010
Our Ref: CB
Consultation on possibility of Runway closures
Following receipt of your consultation document requesting views on the possibility of a small number of runway closures during the Paved Areas Rehabilitation project of the airport, Chamber of Commerce canvassed its member for their views, and these in turn were considered by the Transport Sub-Committee and Council.
The overall view of Chamber of Commerce Council is as follows:
"Chamber of Commerce appreciates Guernsey Airport Management's desire to consult on proposed runway closures associated with the essential works due in 2011/2012.
Whilst it is logical that the majority of construction work will be carried out during night time hours, Chamber is not yet fully convinced that complete closure of the Airport for four periods of two days is strictly necessary. On those days maybe it would be possible for every attempt to be made to keep a reduced runway length available, so that at least 800m is provided for the operation of a basic shuttle service using smaller aircraft.
Many remotely located airports around the World are able to offer continuous access, using aircraft such as the Trislander and Twin Otter (operating from runways of 800m or less). It is therefore preferable that every effort be made to keep Guernsey's Airport operational, especially during the peak summer months when two of the four periods of daytime closure are being proposed.
If exceptional circumstances dictate that half day or full day closures are unavoidable, a large number of Chamber members have expressed a preference for Sunday and/or Monday disruption (as opposed to midweek periods or full weekend closures). Daytime closures during the peak visitor periods, such as Bank Holiday weekends or during mid July and August, should be avoided at all costs.
Chamber is of the opinion that a basic service (offering lifeline access to maybe Jersey and Southampton) would still be feasible, even on those days where partial decommissioning of the runway cannot be avoided.
The Management at Guernsey Airport is urged to consider all possible options, and to facilitate creative solutions which would allow the airport to remain open."
Whilst the above is the overall view, we are also pleased to add comments received from some groups of members, and we list these below in case they are helpful to you:
- It was understood that the two day closure is effectively two 0600 – 2100 periods of closure. This would effectively provide three nights work around that closure period.
- If some closures are absolutely necessary it is probably most efficient to let the contractors have some say about the closures and when they want them, within reason.
- We think we should concentrate on making the most of the closures rather than trying to stop/limit them.
- There was a view from some that Tuesday/Wednesday closure could be appropriate as Business travel is flexible if planned well in advance. Tourist travel is much more fickle.
- Another view expressed was weekend closure could be good from point of view of business travel enabling travel Monday to Friday to remain available, but this may have a more serious effect on tourist travel.
- Runway closures; take care to avoid Public holiday periods, and holiday periods at the start or finish of the school holidays.
- It appears that there are a few things that can be put in place well in advance to at least keep passengers moving, even with additional inconvenience/longer journey times. a) To get Condor to do some sort of shuttle service to Jersey to pick up Guernsey flights diverted to Jersey, so passengers can at least get flights. b) It is made clear in the document that there may be scope for a limited runway length enabling some aircraft types to do a shuttle to Jersey and Southampton?
- We feel it will be possible for Emergency flights as contractors would in effect ‘stand down’ for that arrival of departure.
- It doesn’t actually look too bad when you consider the enormity of the project, the key it seems to us is to minimise any closures and operate them at the least inconvenient time for the majority recognising the need for free flow travelling for business visitors, leisure visitors from and to the island can book onward travel around the closures as long as they have “loads of notice in advance”!
- We don’t have details of the programme for working but May and July are not exactly the ideal time to have closures and could these not be programmed for the winter months. I am sure that there is a good reason such as hours of darkness etc why not but await your comments.
- Volker Fitzpatrick (one of the interested contractors) have indicated they really would like to close the runway between say 10.00 and 16.00 to give them a complete shift which would reduce the overall project and cost considerably. Also, the savings made would more than pay for a helicopter link to Jersey or Southampton. We believe not so, and this Volker Fitzpatrick view has been discussed, and whilst as a possibility, it does provide quite a short working window of only six hours, less set up time, and then clear up time and checking prior to re-opening, so working period is quite short. Night closures 21.00 to 06.00 following morning provides a longer work period, but with the dark to cope with…....but this is what was done successfully in Jersey and other airports! Helicopter operations are incredibly expensive, and we believe it may not be possible to source helicopters for operation of such short periods and of a size available to be of use. We are of the view of that of maintaining a short runway is actually more cost effective by a wide margin.
- Closure of Taxiway ‘D’ needed for five days, if it has to be done in April, avoid the two week period incorporating Easter.
We hope that you find these comments usefully and wish to emphasise the overall view of Chamber of Commerce as in bold on page one.
Rob Le Page
Chairman, Transport Sub Group
Guernsey Chamber of Commerce