Which airports serve the Channel Islands?
The Channel Islands are an interesting archipelago when it comes to commercial air transport. Located just off the Normandy coast in northwest France, these British Crown Dependencies are not technically part, like the Isle of Man, of the United Kingdom. However, flights within the country to its Crown Dependencies are treated as domestic services. Let’s take a look at the different airports that serve this Channel archipelago,
The busiest airport in the Channel Islands is located in Saint-Pierre on the island of Jersey. Jersey Airport (JER) was consistently handling an average of more than one million passengers per year before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, it recorded more than 1.7 million passengers, its highest figure in almost 25 years. 2020 saw that number drop to 420,195.
Jersey is a popular holiday destination with sun-seeking UK travelers. As such, much of its traffic is seasonal. In addition, 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, there are several year-round routes that also serve the island. These serve destinations on the British mainland, as well as on the neighboring Channel Island of Guernsey. The busiest route all year round is the easyJet London Gatwick service (670,763 passengers in 2018). Recently, Wizz Air has also started serving Jersey from its bases in Cardiff and Doncaster Sheffield.
Interestingly, London Gatwick is also the largest market for the Channel Islands’ second largest airport. Located in Sainte Marguerite de la Forêt, Guernsey Airport (GCI) welcomed more than 310,000 passengers to and from London’s second largest air transport hub in 2019. Unlike Jersey, this route is not operated by easyJet, but rather by Alderney.
In addition to serving a multitude of destinations on the British mainland, Alderney also serves Guernsey to Dublin and neighboring Alderney all year round. These flights all operate within the British and Irish Common Travel Area. On a seasonal basis, Alderney also offers international flights from Guernsey to Alpes-Isere Airport (GNB) in Grenoble, France.
As for other airlines, Blue Islands flies from Guernsey to Jersey and Southampton year round. Meanwhile, British Airways flies the island seasonally from Edinburgh and London City. While the airport has yet to exceed one million passengers per year, it has exceeded 900,000 on several occasions. The coronavirus reduced the 2020 figure to just 184,503.
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Alderney Airport (ACI) is the third and final commercial aviation facility serving the Channel Islands. While the airport is much smaller and quieter than Jersey and Guernsey (a trait that also applies to the island itself, as cars aren’t allowed), it has three runways.
Alderney is currently the only airline serving Alderney. Because of its short runways (the longest of which is just 877 meters), these services tend to be the domain of the airline’s smaller planes, like the Dornier 228 and, previously, the Britten Norman Trislander.
Currently, flights to Alderney to Alderney originate from Guernsey and Southampton. The island has also seen services from elsewhere on the south coast of the UK and even from France before. Sark Island, on the other hand, does not have an airport. It is below the Guernsey approach path, but planes cannot overfly Sark at altitudes below 2,400 feet.
How many Channel Islands airports have you used? Do you have a crush in particular? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!