The Channel Islands are an interesting archipelago as far as commercial air travel is concerned. Located just off the Normandy coast, to the northwest of France, these British Crown Dependencies are, like the Isle of Man, not technically part of the UK. However, flights from the country to its Crown Dependencies are treated as domestic services. Let’s take a look at the various airports that serve this archipelago in the English Channel.
The busiest airport in the Channel Islands is situated in Saint Peter on the island of Jersey. Jersey Airport (JER) consistently averaged more than one million passengers a year before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, it registered more than 1.7 million passengers, its highest figure for nearly 25 years. 2020 saw this figure drop to 420,195.
Jersey is a popular holiday destination among sun-seeking UK travelers. As such, much of its traffic is seasonal. Additionally, several airlines also operate seasonal routes from Jersey to international destinations. These include Blue Islands (Zürich), British Airways (Málaga and Mallorca), Eurowings (Düsseldorf), Lufthansa (Munich), and Volotea (Tenerife).
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That being said, several year-round routes also serve the island. These serve destinations on the UK mainland, as well as the neighboring Channel Island of Guernsey. The busiest year-round route is easyJet’s London Gatwick service (670,763 passengers in 2018). Recently, Wizz Air also began serving Jersey from its Cardiff and Doncaster Sheffield bases.
Interestingly enough, London Gatwick is also the largest market for the Channel Islands’ second-busiest airport. Located in a parish known as The Forest, Guernsey Airport (GCI) saw more than 310,000 passengers fly to and from London’s second-busiest air travel hub in 2019. As opposed to Jersey, this route is not operated by easyJet, but rather by Aurigny.
As well as serving a host of destinations on the UK mainland, Aurigny also flies from Guernsey to neighboring Alderney on a year-round basis, and will begin serving Dublin in March 2022. These flights all operate within the British and Irish Common Travel Area.
On a seasonal basis, Aurigny also flies internationally from Guernsey to Alpes–Isère Airport in Grenoble, France. Next July, it will add Málaga to its portfolio.
In terms of other airlines, Blue Islands flies from Guernsey to Jersey and Southampton on a year-round basis. In April 2022, it will resume seasonal service to Groningen, Netherlands. A month later, British Airways is set to begin operating a seasonal route to Palma de Mallorca. While the airport is yet to exceed one million passengers per year, it has topped 900,000 on several occasions. Coronavirus reduced 2020’s figure to just 184,503.
Alderney (ACI) is the third commercial airport serving the Channel Islands. While the airport is smaller and quieter than Jersey and Guernsey, it has three runways. Aurigny is currently the only airline serving Alderney. Owing to its short runways (the longest of which measures just 877 meters), these services are the domain of the airline’s smaller aircraft, namely the Dornier 228. Aurigny previously flew the Britten Norman Trislander to Alderney
At present, Aurigny’s Alderney-bound flights come from Guernsey and Southampton. The island has also previously seen services from elsewhere on the UK’s South Coast and even France. The car-free island of Sark, on the other hand, has no airport. It is under the approach path for Guernsey, but aircraft cannot pass over Sark at altitudes lower than 2,400 feet.
How many of the Channel Islands’ airports have you used? Do you have a particular favorite? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!