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Guernsey-based regional carrier Aurigny Air Services is to operate its first jet service.

The move to order an Embraer E195 comes as the airline faces the threat of competition from easyJet on its key Gatwick to Guernsey route.

The budget carrier is reported to have applied for a licence to operate flights to and from the second largest of the Channel Islands.

EasyJet has applied for traffic rights so it can look at all the options and decide if the route is commercially viable.

The airline has already announced plans to start serving Jersey from Gatwick as part of the take-off and landing slots acquired at the airport from Flybe, which will cease its Guernsey service in March 2014.

The States of Guernsey Commerce and Employment Department is expected to rule on the application in the coming weeks.

Aurigny is expected to receive the E195, capable of carrying 122 passengers, in the first quarter of next year

The airline currently flies turboprops on six daily frequencies between Gatwick and Guernsey.

Introduction of a jet will enable it to increase the number of daily flights to eight and offer additional capacity.

Chief executive Mark Darby said: “The acquisition of the E195 is a major step forward for our company.

“The London-Gatwick route is very important for us. We’ve been mandated by the State of Guernsey to increase capacity and upgrade the quality of our overall service so we decided to move up to a jet. The E195 was the natural choice.”

Paulo Cesar Silva, president and chief executive of Embraer Commercial Aviation, said: “The E195 has proven to be an ideal aircraft for high-volume, high-frequency markets.

“I’m confident Aurigny will appreciate the E195’s low operating costs and high reliability when it introduces the jet on its flagship route.”