You wait for years for a Channel Island to launch an aircraft registry. And then two come along at once.Jersey, a British Protectorate, and the largest of the archipelago of islands in the English Channel off the coast of France, has today announced that it will launch its own aircraft registry. In an inspired move it has also signed up Brian Johnson, who launched the Isle of Man Aircraft Registry as a consultant. (He will continue to work at off-shore law firm Appleby which has a large office on Jersey.)By coincidence, Jersey’s announcement comes just three days before neighboring island Guernsey officially registers its first aircraft on Monday.
Although the two islands are just 40 miles apart, they have completely different constitutions and are not officially linked in any way. They did talk about launching a joint registry – and the two islands have started cooperating on other issues – but that project fell apart earlier this year. No one would say that launching an aircraft registry is easy. It is not. The regulatory hurdles are high and you have to work hard to educate people. But ever since Aruba outsourced the administration of its aircraft registry in 1995, the financial risk for the jurisdiction has fallen and islands like the Isle of Man, which also outsourced, have clearly benefited from having a successful registry.
The big question is: how will the two aircraft registries differentiate themselves? They will need to stand out both from each other and other islands like Aruba, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man, San Marino, Malta and others that are keen to grow this business. (San Marino is an island, albeit surrounded by Italy rather than water.) There is no one off-shore registry that is right for every aircraft owner and each of the existing registries has a unique selling point of some sort – even if it is cost or service.It will also be fascinating watching how the two islands compete with each other. Despite the short distance between them, the two islands are fierce rivals. Sir Peter Osbourne, a former Governor of Guernsey, once said. ”The natural animosity between the islanders of Guernsey and Jersey is so well known.”
He was writing in 1646.
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