A new air taxi service dubbed as an ‘Uber of the sky’ has been forced to stop selling tickets following a legal dispute with a competing airline.
Guernsey-based Waves, which launched last year, announced yesterday that it would only be able to provide full aircraft charters and that all existing bookings will have to be cancelled.
It originally marketed itself as an ‘on-demand’ service with no scheduled flights – customers had to contact the firm with their travel requirements.
But this was challenged by Blue Islands last month, who are looking for a judicial review of their new competitor’s licence.
Pictured: Blue Islands say that they are no strangers to competition, but want this to be on a "level playing field".
They argue that Waves is similar to a scheduled service because it sets departure and arrival airports, sells individual seats and markets seats on flights in which no passengers are already booked.
"If Blue Islands started operating a daily service on any Aurigny route under the claim of being an air taxi, the TLA [Transport Licensing Authority] would step in and stop it. That is exactly what should have happened here," Blue Islands said in a statement.
Now, one month later, Waves have stopped providing the disputed service. Instead, customers will only be able to hire the flight provider’s Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft at £399 one-way between Guernsey and Jersey or Alderney and £499 one-way between Jersey and Alderney.
Pictured: Waves CEO, Nick Magliochetti.
Corporate bookers and frequent flyers were informed via email yesterday by Waves Accountant Tim Chilestone, who apologised for the news.
Explaining the move, Waves’ deputy CEO Barrie Baxter commented: “We have had to review our business model following liaison and correspondence with the Transport Licensing Authority in Guernsey.
“Whilst we believe that our air taxi model was exactly that, we have listened to their guidance and are also preparing to apply for a full route licence between Guernsey and Jersey. In the interim, our valued customers can still fly with us, on demand, by booking the aircraft.”
Pictured: The Cessna aircraft available for hire.
“Waves has been flying since October 2017 and will continue to do so. The feedback we get from our customers demonstrates the need in the Channel Islands for a small, efficient, flexible and safe on demand air service and that is what we will continue to offer.”
Waves gained their Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) in September last year, which enabled the air taxi service to start operating in October.
Since then, the flight provider have gone on to open more than 30 corporate accounts, which could be put at risk after this latest development.
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