The politician in charge of the the struggling Jersey Aircraft Registry has rejected reports it might be abandoned after it emerged only two aircrafts had signed up in over a year. Deputy Murray Norton said that a "radical" overhaul of the £800,000 project could still make it even more successful than originally predicted.
Launched in 2015, the initiative aimed to get wealthy aircraft owners to register their planes in Jersey, generating thousands in fees and subsequently encouraging them to conduct business in the Island.
While the States had hoped for 12 sign-ups per year, the Registry only attracted two aircrafts after a 16-month wait and an investment of £860,801 of taxpayers' money, leading the Assistant Economic Development Minister, Murray Norton, to freeze expenditure on the project.
But he said that reports that the project might be scrapped on this basis were “inaccurate” and that the £860k sum had been necessary to put vital Registry infrastructure in place.
Of this investment. 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
According to a report by the Director of Civil Aviation, there has been a "period of consolidation" since the 2015 launch, which has seen the DCA meet regularly with technical partner, Avisa Aviation Services throughout 2016.
After giving the Registry a year to “prove itself” following this investment, Deputy Norton says that he called for a "radical" remodelling of the current business plan.
He told Express: “I brought in a new team of officers to look at this come January of this year, and took responsibility for it in a political sense and said, ‘Let’s find new markets, let’s find a better way of marketing the JAR than we have done so far and a better way of operating it so that we can attract aircraft and play catch-up to the others.’ That’s exactly where we are now.”
Deputy Norton added that the team have been in discussions over the past 2.5 months with external stakeholders who he declined to name at present, which should allow for an updated business plan to be revealed by the end of May or June this year.
Pictured: Deputy Murray Norton, Assistant Economic Development Minister, who holds responsibility for the Jersey Aircraft Registry.
Guernsey’s model – launched in 2013 – has gained 160 aircraft on its list, while the Isle of Man has over 1,000 registered. But Deputy Norton said that Jersey’s new model would not seek to replicate this.
“Guernsey and the Isle of Man have done very well, but they got into a market which has flat-lined – the corporate jet market – over the last two or three years, and is actually slowing down. What we need to do is actually be much more creative.”
If his plans are successful, Deputy Norton said that he was “optimistic” that the Jersey Aircraft Registry would not only take on more than the predicted 12 annual sign-ups, but “catch up or even overtake other registries."
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