Blue Islands secures £10m loan and relaunches from Southampton

Channel Islands airline Blue Islands relaunched today from Southampton with a £10 million loan and a new livery after emerging from the failure of Flybe for which it operated as a franchise carrier.

Blue Islands had operated in Flybe colours since 2016 and lost its reservations system and website when Flybe ceased flying in March.

It has re-emerged as an independent carrier and announced today it has secured a £10 million commercial loan from the Jersey government and a contract to become once more the chief carrier at Jersey airport.

The airline also unveiled a new livery as it resumed daily services between Southampton and Jersey after the Channel Island relaxed quarantine restrictions for arrivals this week.

Blue Islands will launch services to Manchester and Dublin from Southampton from August 31 and increase the frequency of its Jersey-Southampton services.

Services between Bristol and Jersey will launch on August 3, operating four times a week, and go daily from September.

Birmingham-Jersey flights are also due to commence from August 31, Exeter-Jersey flights from September 3, and East Midlands-Jersey flights from September 29.

In a statement, the carrier said its goal is “to replace lost capacity on core business routes in the South and Southwest such as Southampton and Exeter to Manchester, and to connect people from Jersey and Guernsey”.

The carrier has operated ‘lifeline routes’ from Jersey to Gatwick and Southampton through the lockdown, supported by the Jersey government.

Paul Simmons, a former senior executive at Flybe, easyJet and Malaysia Air, helped Blue Islands relaunch having joined the company’s board last year as a non-executive director.

He is now working full time for the airline which is almost wholly owned by Derek Coates, founder of health-supplement supplier Healthspan.

Simmons said: “When the market improves, Blue Islands plans to add a second aircraft at Southampton, covering an increased selection of routes and frequencies.”

He told Travel Weekly: “We’ll establish ourselves at Southampton and Exeter and there is talk of re-establishing some of Flybe’s French regional routes.

“We’re seen as the local airline on both Jersey and Guernsey, and we’re trying to be seen as the preferred airline, offering a nicer way to fly.”

He noted: “The airline made money consistently up to last year. It is a successful business model.”

Blue Islands chief executive Rob Vernon said: “Blue Islands is committed to simplifying regional air travel, with no hidden costs or stresses over bag restrictions.

“We’re proud to announce our new product offering, refreshed brand identity and new website.  Our aim is to make flying a pleasure again.”

The carrier has a fleet of five turboprop aircraft, four ATR-72s and an ATR-42, with a sixth due for delivery in September and a seventh expected before the end of the year.

Jersey relaxed 14-day quarantine restrictions on arrivals this week, but requires all visitors be tested for Covid-19 on arrival. Anyone refusing the test is required to isolate for 14 days.

Guernsey remains in lockdown with quarantine restrictions on all arrivals.

Blue Islands operated as a Flybe franchise from mid-2016, operating from Jersey and Guernsey, Southampton and Exeter to Bristol, Manchester, East Midlands, Birmingham and Liverpool.

Coates acquired the airline’s forerunner Rockhopper in 2004 and renamed it Blue Islands in 2006.

The airline’s relaunched services go on sale this week and are available via the GDS.

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