Just how much is that BMI Heathrow subsidy?

It's great to have Ian Taylor back! And he's certainly fighting fit and keen to get to the bottom of this Heathrow subsidy. As reported in today's Jersey Evening Post, Flybe have asked the OFT in the UK to investigate the subsidy provided by the States to BMI for the new Heathrow route. They have also complained to the Jersey Competition Authority that the deal should have been referred to them for approval.

Not content with that, Flybe have also made submissions to Economic Development, objecting to the issuing of a permit to fly the route. So where does that leave us?

To be honest it is unlikely that the launch of the new route will be affected - which will come as a relief to the thousands who have already booked to travel to Heathrow (including me!). However, it seems to me that the real problem here is Economic Development's refusal to reveal the subsidy. The secrecy of the deal suggests it's a pretty largish sum of tax-payer's money. Ian Taylor wants the figure to be revealed and is quoted as saying ' If it was £3 million a year - that's £9 million over 3 years.' Clearly you're good at maths, Ian!

Deputy Alan Maclean refuses to divulge the amount on the grounds of commercial confidentiality - but if it's public money and the figure is in that ballpark, surely the amount should be revealed?

Everyone in our industry (except Flybe and the other airlines) is delighted to have the Heathrow route back - not least the Finance industry. Perhaps there lies the key to the whole thing. The Golden Child of Jersey's economy has forced the hand of the government to make it easier for their clients to come and check out the value of their funds.

I'm willing to bet that it won't be long before the true level of subsidy is revealed. Keep watching this space!

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