It's been confirmed a private company is to take over the running of the Jersey Aircraft Registry, after £900k has been spent on the project so far, with just one aircraft currently registered.
Speaking in the States, the Assistant Economic Development Minister, Senator Steve Pallet, confirmed that no more aircraft owners had come forward to join the scheme. But a private company would now take it over, and operate it on behalf of Ports of Jersey.
Formed in 2015, the Registry, for aircraft using the ZJ prefix - was intended to focus on registering new or nearly new high- value private and corporate aircraft, and generate up to £20m a year.
Speaking at the time of the launch, the Economic Development Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham said:
"This new registry will be a fantastic opportunity for the Island. We have created the Jersey Aircraft Registry for local service providers to register aircraft, aircraft mortgages and, uniquely, commercial aircraft engine mortgages for clients. This will enable local businesses to broaden their offerings, which already includes the registration of companies, ships and other security interests.
"Revenue will be created through the fees charged by the Registry, and we hope to see new jobs created in financial, fiduciary and legal services. There is also a longer-term goal of creating roles in technical positions, as we see maintenance and management organisations relocating to Jersey.”
However, only one aircraft is now on the registry - in 2016 Senator Farnham described it as a "slow build."
Pictured: after 4 years, the registry only has one aircraft registered, and was described by Senator Farnham as a "slow build."
After the decision was taken to go-ahead with the registry in 2013, the governments of Jersey and Guernsey looked at a joint initiative for the CI, but these plans were shelved after Guernsey decided to 'fly solo', with the Economic Development Minister of the time, Senator Alan Maclean commenting:
“After detailed discussions, we agreed it would not be possible to establish a joint registry which would safeguard the commercial interests of each Island’s financial service sectors."
With a quicker take-off, the Guernsey registry went live the same year, two years ahead of Jersey, and according to Senator Pallett, now has more than 400 registrations.
It emerged in 2018 that the troubled project had been handed over to Ports of Jersey who handle the more successful Jersey Shipping Registry. That followed a decision by the Assistant Economic Development Minister, Deputy Murrary Norton to put the brakes on, when the Registry only attracted two aircraft after a 16-month wait and an investment of £860,801 of taxpayers' money.
Pictured: Senator Steve Pallett updated the States on the registry.
Details published at the time revealed that the most was spent on IT development, which totalled £372,000. Specialist Advice and Consultancy came at a cost of £177,000, while £115,000 was spent on Registrar Services. £96,000, meanwhile, was spent on "Miscellaneous" including internal resources.
Other expenses included:
External Marketing, admin and PR support - £32,000
Insurance - £25,000
Travel and associated expenses - £17,000
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) - £15,000
External legal advice - £11,000
Speaking at the time, former Deputy Norton argued that at least £400,000 had been money well-spent, because it had gone towards developing registry software now in use for beneficial ownership purposes by the JFSC.
Now, Senator Pallett said a private company would be taking on the project. He told the States:
"I'm extremely pleased to advise members that Ports are finalising the terms of a contract with a commercial third party, who will operate the Registry, following a public procurement exercise. The commercial operator will work with Ports and Government to relaunch the Jersey Aircraft Registry with a new business model.
"A succesfull aircraft registry is an important addition to Jersey's offer as an international finance centre, and I'm optimistic about its future despite its troubled start."
The company is thought to be based in Jersey, and beat off a challenge from one other applicant.
You can watch the full exchange in the States here.
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