Ports of Jersey is running the Jersey Aircraft Registry once again after the private company that took over in 2019 pulled out, following issues raised by the Director of Civil Aviation.
Ports of Jersey previously ran the project between 2018 and November 2019 following a decision from the then-Assistant Economic Development Minister, Deputy Murray Norton, to put the brakes on after it emerged that the Registry had attracted just two aircraft after 16 months at a cost of £860,801 of public money.
Formed in 2015, the Registry - for aircraft using the ZJ prefix - was supposed to register new, or nearly new, high-value private and corporate aircraft, with an ambition of generating up to £20m per year.
A private provider agreed to take over the running of the registry in November 2019, when only one aircraft was registered.
But responsibility for the Registry is now back with Ports of Jersey - news that came as a surprise to Deputy Steve Luce, who sits on the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel.
Pictured: Deputy Kirsten Morel said he believes there is a future for the Aircraft Registry.
On Friday, he questioned Assistant Minister Deputy Kirsten Morel, who has political responsibility for it, over the current situation and the future of the project, which he described as “not one of major success over the years."
“It’s unfortunate that the previous provider pulled out, there were good reasons for that and Ports now has it,” he said.
“There were issues raised by the office of the DCA, which I believe led to that outcome,” he later said, before adding he didn’t want to elaborate for “commercial reasons” in a public forum.
“I don’t want to say anything that lands anyone in embarrassment or wrong situation,” he said.
Deputy Morel said that, if the Aircraft Registry is to continue in the long-term, finding a new operator would be “an appropriate way forward”, noting that it doesn’t sit “naturally” with Ports.
“That said, at the moment, Ports is the right place for it as we determine the future of the aviation sector and the AR,” he noted.
“I am keen that any Aircraft Registry going forward is entirely carbon neutral and I believe this is something that could help invigorate the Aircraft Registry," Deputy Morel went on to state.
Pictured: Deputy Morel says the Registry could help Jersey in the development of a wider aviation sector.
This, he said, could help Jersey in developing its wider aviation sector, with a focus on sustainability.
“There’s work to be done on feasibility side of doing that but that’s how I see the Aircraft Registry at the moment,” he said. “If there is no future then I think we need to be honest and say, 'We tried, it’s not working,' but that’s not where we are at the moment.”
He said that, by December next year, there should be “a definitive either pathway forward or an end”, which Deputy Luce described as “an awful long time to work out whether there is a future for the Aircraft Registry or not."
“The reason for that is because in my mind, it’s tied to the development of an aviation sector, so the question is, can Jersey develop the aviation sector as a viable pillar to its economy? And that’s where the length of the work lies - in determining whether there is opportunity for Jersey to have a wider aviation sector that is larger than it is today,” Deputy Morel said.
Later on in the hearing, he added: “I am asking officers and those in the industry to look at this from a sustainability perspective, we know that the aircraft industry is a known carbon emitter but we also there is a great deal of innovation in terms of engineering for different types of fuel and different types of engines and I wonder whether Jersey can tie into that and lead the way in sustainable aviation.”
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