Guernsey Airport debate
March 2001 The debate lingers on through the radio and Guernsey Press as to
whether the Board of Administration are right in spending £17million on a new terminal building. Some islanders
feel that the money should be spent on extending the runway so as to cater for longer haul flights to and from
Europe. It is a fact that even existing highly flexible BAE 146 jet has to limit its load under poor weather
conditions and low visibility means that its overshoot decision height is higher than at other airports. On the
other hand British European have announced a $600 investment programme in new 112 seater BAE Avro RJX-100 jets
which are expected to cater for longer distances and may open up new destinations to and from the Channel Islands.
With category 3 ratings, they can land 'blind' at airports such as Gatwick during foggy conditions. Although
Guernsey has only a category 1 airport and does not benefit from such sophistication, it would reduce delays at the
Gatwick end and could be used to capacity at Guernsey airport.
Other islanders and in particular airline pilot Captain Max Carling, have put forward a
convincing argument to develop from scratch a new airport at the little used Mont Cuet headland in the north of the
island. This would be on reclaimed land out to sea, very much like Hong Kong. The reasons put forward (similar to
ones in 1967) include less noise pollution for residents, better weather conditions (less fog), no restrictions on
runway extensions, a flatter runway and better aligned with prevailing winds (current one is 20 degrees out of
line). It would also mean that the existing airport would free up 300 acres of prime mixed-use land which some feel
could generate up to £200million. The airport could continue without disruption while the new one was built and
financed over five years. A new quarry could also be excavated for the stone and be used later as a refuse tip. The
Board of Admin President Roger Berry described it as 'a nice idea' but the cost of £350million as
'unaffordable and barmy'.