Baker Feels The Heat

Martyn Perkins to ask the Minister for Infrastructure – How much it cost to subsidise airlines on the Liverpool, Manchester and Heathrow routes in the last twelve months?

Tim Baker – Maximum exposure is £5.4m from April 2020. Total cost so far is £4.6m.

Martyn Perkins – Are we able to make sure that we are only subsidising those routes? Are we making sure we’re not covering other losses?

Tim Baker – The arrangements are bespoke for those routes and covered by a contractual agreement of a maximum underwrite. The actual cost to gov is reduced by the usage and revenue generated when people fly. Without us doing this, the routes wouldn’t exist and we need them. No reason to suggest any issues.

Captain Paul Quine – No contingency plan was in place for the collapse of Flybe which exposed a shortcoming that was only masked by the pandemic. That Loganair had the logistics on island ensured they could step in and fill the gap, stopping us having to go cap in hand to an off island company. Subsidy has been well spent to secure vital routes.

Tim Baker – Anticipated support for Loganair there, they did step in and have delivered for us. We have to make sure we have a number of options available as we move forward. As the borders open up I look forward to working with airlines to develop improved connectivity.

Lawrie Hooper – Given we have Open Skies and there is no certainty the flights will continue when the subsidy ends, can I ask who decided on the flight schedule for the flights we would subsidise? We have a lot more flights than Guernsey are we over supplying?

Tim Baker – It’s an interesting question, the number of airports served is three, Liverpool, Manchester and London. Liverpool is vital for healthcare, Manchester effectively is a package with the Liverpool arrangement, there is some need for healthcare but also the use of the planes. The judgemental issue is London, the requirement was discussed across gov and it was decided that we needed to maintain that London link. Through this we have been able to secure Heathrow links which will be a big benefit in the long term, this was only available because we partnered with airlines in the way we have. We could cut some services but CoMIn has concluded that is not in our best interests.

Martyn Perkins – We have a position of strength, shouldn’t we negotiate to get Three Legs of Mann on an aircraft and get the feel good factor back, great marketing tool.

Juan Watterson – No need to answer that, it’s beyond the scope of the questions.

Julie Edge – When will you review the arrangements? EasyJet is coming back, will the flights go to tender?

Tim Baker – They haven’t negotiated with us on timetables and we won’t be underwriting any of their services, Airlines can publish timetables to suit their interests and it’s encouraging they want to come back but I don’t anticipate them starting before significant border changes. The subsidy is only for the border period, without it those services wouldn’t be provided, it will be tailed off as the market demand increases. There will probably be more airlines and more airports in the future.

Juan Watterson – Minister you’re going on for too long.

Bill Shimmins – How many passengers were carried on each route, just so we can see the cost per passenger?

Tim Baker – Not about costs but connectivity.

Paul Quine – Would you agree our link with Heathrow offers us global reach? The bold and confident decision by CoMin sends out the right signal.

Tim Baker – I agree.

Lawrie Hooper – You’ve given conflicting answers, is it a long term solution or just about pandemic connectivity? What assurances do you have for the long term viability of these routes? Open Skies means they can just shut down and go.

Tim Baker – I can confirm I am not going to provide long guarantees to airlines unless there are key links the island needs. The international community has been decimated by Covid and a new normal will emerge. What I can clarify is that by managing connectivity now we have opened up opportunities for the future. If we hadn’t worked with Loganair then we wouldn’t have the long term slots. 

Jason Moorhouse to ask the Minister for Infrastructure – What action the Department took in relation to the decision by the amenity sites to remain closed during lockdown?

Tim Baker – We don’t operate them; it is the local authorities who have made the decision to close.

Jason Moorhouse – How often are recycling bins emptied?

Juan Watterson – Straying but Minister do you know?

Tim Baker – Our contractor has flexed to respond to demand but there will be incidents where the bring bank sites are full, if they are, let us know and we’ll sort it.

Julie Edge – Do you know when they will be open?

Tim Baker – No, it’s not my decision but I understand they are looking to reopen as soon as they are able to do so, hopeful for further developments in the next few days.

Ann Corlett – If there is no legal requirement to close the sites are there any statutory problems with them being closed or can it be done by health and safety?

Tim Baker – I will check with officers but the concerns raised was about the safety of staff and the wider public. 

Lawrie Hooper to ask the Minister for Infrastructure – When will people be able to use the connectPORTS service to book transport to and from a vaccination appointment?

Tim Baker – Currently the road service licence doesn’t allow for this so we can’t use it except for taking people to the airport and the policy for the DoI is only to fill empty seats when there are spare ones for patient transfer. Not appropriate to ask RTLC to alter the licence and no guarantee that they would approve it. DHSC will provide services for people who need to access vaccine centres.

Lawrie Hooper – I first raised this issue back in December about access to Airport Hub for my constituents and yours, what progress has been made for our residents in the north?

Tim Baker – So you did, I can clarify that the arrangements have been made with the DHSC I believe they have worked extremely well so far. Always scope for improvement but the issue with connectPORTS and why that isn’t the answer has been covered. We have an outstanding bus service that is the envy of other rural areas and I believe we do an outstanding job.

Chris Thomas – I appreciate this clarity that connectPORTS is point to point and yet on the website it is described as a door to door minibus service that allows people to share journeys, is this wrong?

Tim Baker – The marketing may need looking at but no it isn’t wrong. 

Lawrie Hooper – Is a 3.5 hour round trip acceptable?

Tim Baker – The location hub is not my issue, that is DHSC, it has delivered a good service and people can get there through a public bus service or other means, clearly a shorter journey is preferable but the DoI has risen to the challenge.

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