Message from the Duty Managers - 16/10/23
As you may know, we use the quieter month of November, when we carry the fewest passengers, to conduct essential and required maintenance on our two craft. As these craft cross the Solent many times a day, it is crucial that we keep them in the best possible condition to help maintain our reliability standards.
This necessary work means that we will be operating with one craft for the month of November, and we are aware, from our own observations and your valuable feedback, that in previous years this has impacted our on time performance (OTP), specifically in the afternoons.
To address this, we are introducing a temporary timetable from 6th November to 3rd December inclusive as a trial for one craft operations. The new timetable includes the same number of flights with changes to the departure and arrival times in the afternoons, creating a slightly longer turnaround time at Ryde. The altered flights are shown below with all other crossings remaining the same.
To make the transition to the temporary timetable smoother, this week our commercial team will be transferring all affected preferred bookings on to the closest corresponding crossing in the new timetable. For example if your preferred booking was the 1530 from Southsea, you will be booked on 1515 from Southsea. If your amended booking is not suitable please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of which new flight you would prefer to use.
The Hoverbus timetable has also been adjusted for the same period to ensure we maintain this important connectivity with the rail stations in Portsmouth. For details please visit www.hovertravel.co.uk/timetables
Additionally our engineering and pilots teams have worked together to ensure the forthcoming scheduled skirt fingers replacement can be conducted during this maintenance period to minimise disruption. All our teams will be focussed on delivering the best possible OTP, and while we ask for your understanding and patience, we will be using our five-minute rule to help keep us on time.
As explained above the new timetable is a trial and we are looking for your constructive comments and helpful suggestions. Please talk us to in terminal or email us at email@example.com
Your Duty Managers
Terri, Scott, Ryan & Rich
Firstly please let me apologise sincerely for the delays to our service over the past couple of weeks. I appreciate that you rely on us to be on time and for several days in a row we have not been providing a consistent service. All my teams understand that even a ten minute delay can be disruptive to a customer’s experience.
There are two main factors which affected our On Time Performance (OTP); unexpected and unplanned maintenance with one of our craft meaning we were unable to swap craft to catch up. The second factor is a significant rise in the volume of customers requiring more time to board and disembark.
However we now have two operable craft so, thanks to the engineering team, we can manage our craft to support the timetable better.
Our Operations team is focussed fully on improving our OTP and our Duty Managers are introducing some specific measures for the forthcoming Isle of Wight Festival weekend – more details below.
Finally from me, please be assured that everyone at Hovertravel (including engineers, pilots, crew and ground teams) is always trying to offer the best possible customer experience.
As you will know the weekend of the Isle of Wight Festival can be a busy time for us and this year we have added many extra flights, with departures occurring every 15 minutes for much of Thursday (15th) and all of Monday (19th). We realise that some of our frequent travellers may be concerned about travelling and each duty manager is briefed to provide priority assistance to our regular customers. Please ensure you book your chosen flight and make yourself known to us when you travel and we will endeavour to get you on the next available flight.
For any of you with a HoverBlue Island Resident card, we have a special Escape The Festival offer which will offer 50% discount for anyone travelling on Saturday (17th) and Sunday (18th). We will be emailing details of this special offer this week.
As a general rule for all flights, booking online and in advance, is the only way to secure your seat on your chosen flight. Turning up to the terminal and hoping there is availability is no guarantee that you will travel, and as we get busier over the summer period we often have full craft.
As always, we are here to help so please let us know if you need any assistance at any time during your journey.
Terri, Scott, Ryan and Rich (your duty managers)
As we return to work, school and our everyday routines during a very stormy end of December and beginning of January, everyone at Hovertravel sends their Happy New Year wishes to you all and thanks you for your patience when we are disrupted by the weather.
Following feedback received from customers and staff that our boarding for HoverCare passengers could be improved we conducted a trial throughout December to see if assisted boarding passengers embarking last would work better. The trial was very successful and welcomed by passengers and the Hovertravel User Group (HUG), so this process is now permanently part of our operation. Additionally following feedback from a customer we now have arranged transport for HoverCare customers to and from the pier in Ryde when our services are cancelled.
Island Line consultation
We had also heard from several passengers that we could be better synchronised with the Island Line trains and we launched a survey to gather more opinions. This survey has had nearly 1,000 responses with over 88% asking for better connections, giving us a clear mandate to work closely with Island Line and their new timetable.
From early January we will be trialling a new way of operating one of our craft under the expert direction of our design authority, Griffon Hoverwork, our engineers and pilots. Instead of turning off the engines for a turn-round, passengers will disembark and board whilst the engines are kept its idle: customers will be able to hear the engines and the skirt may flap on the pad occasionally, plus there will be new air diffuser panels attached to the boarding ramp. If you need assistance or are unsure of anything during this trial, please ask our staff who will be happy to help.
As you all know we are a booked service, without a booking we cannot guarantee that you will get a seat. We ask that ALL passengers book their chosen flight and arrive in plenty of time to scan and board (at least ten minutes before departure).
New and returning for 2023
Our commercial team has been working on several new offers for day trips and joint discounts with restaurants and attractions. We expect to launch these in January, including the return of the highly popular Ryde Castle Meal Deal, so please visit the offers webpage to keep up to date with the latest deals.
Our late night flights for Portsmouth FC fans are very popular and we have two charters scheduled for February which give supporters the opportunity to watch the full 90 minutes and get home quicker. The upcoming dates are Tuesday 14th February (against Burton Albion) and Tuesday 28th February (against Bolton Wanderers).
Your feedback is always welcome and, as can be seen from the above, we listen, learn and adapt, with a dedication to enhancing our service to you and looking to exceed your expectations. If you would like to get in touch please reach out to either the team leaders or duty managers.
Dear Hovertravel community,
Firstly, I would like to apologise sincerely for the recent disruption to our service caused by the bad weather combined with a series of unrelated technical issues, which our engineering team have resolved. These were, however, compounded by the fact that in November our craft require a period of essential annual maintenance and at this time we do not have the option to use a second craft to support our operation. We are currently half way through this annual project of maintenance and appreciate your patience while this necessary work is conducted.
Some of you have asked me why the other hovercraft on pad at Ryde (Solent Express) cannot be used and I wanted to confirm that this craft is not part of our fleet and we are simply storing it for its owners; Griffon Hoverwork.
Until the end of October our reliability for 2022 averaged over 98%. Unfortunately with poor weather and some technical issues in the last two weeks this level has reduced below what we aim for. We welcome your understanding during adverse weather, but we also appreciate that technical cancellations are frustrating and wanted to assure you that my team are implementing the required solutions to offer the best possible service.
Looking further forward, we are planning on launching a consultation amongst all our customers and stakeholders about amending our timetable to connect better with the Island Line train services next year. We will gather your views and then adjust our timetable accordingly in time for the new Island Line timetable launch in April 2023.
Late services are very much in the news and our Portsmouth FC charter flight on Friday 18 November has been so popular, we have another flight departing Southsea at 23:00 which is also selling fast. For those not going to the match there is also a 21:30 ex Southsea and flights at 21:15, 22:15 and 22:45 from Ryde.
At our Ryde terminal we will soon see work commencing on our lift to the Solent Views meeting facility, which is the final part of the accessibility projects funded by the Department of Transport. There will be minimal noise and dust for these works and the lift should be in operation before Easter next year.
In an attempt to create a better process, we are planning a trial of assisted boarding from 01 December, which flips the current pre-boarding process so those customers who require assistance will be boarded last. The HoverCare seats in both terminals will moved to be in clear sight of the scan desk staff and the HoverCare seats onboard the hovercraft will be kept reserved for the customers being assisted with their boarding. This will be a trial and we would very much appreciate feedback from yourselves.
Finally, I would like to re-iterate our apologies for the recent disruptions and assure you all, that we remain committed to offering the highest possible standards of customer service. Thank you for your loyalty and continued custom. If you have any questions during time with us, please reach out to either the team leaders, duty manager or myself who will be able to provide assistance.