Isles MSPs to raise concerns over air services with Scottish Transport Minister

Isles MSP's Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott are to press Scotland's Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf on concerns regarding the future of Orkney and Shetland's air services. 

A meeting with the minister is being arranged to discuss the loss of key connections serving the isles as well as the future sustainability of competition on these lifeline routes, which is due to start on 1st September.

Constituents have been asking both MSP's whether this service will last as no competition has been maintained on the routes in previous years.

Commenting on the issue of flight connections, Orkney's MSP Liam McArthur said:

"Good onward connections are critically important on our lifeline air services. It was hoped that the arrival of competition would offer more choice and greater opportunity to connect onto flights across the UK and internationally.

"Worryingly, the opposite seems to be true. In the absence of any codeshare or similar agreement between Flybe and Loganair, many existing connections will simply cease to be available, making travel to and from the islands more difficult.

"I have written to both airlines urging them to protect connections on routes where they are not competing. I am now looking for the Transport Minister to support to these calls. Given the amount of public funding provided through the Air Discount Scheme, I see no reason why Flybe and Loganair should not be required to deliver a good level of service, including better onward connections.

"I will also be raising with the Minister my concerns about Flybe's plans to use fire crew for carrying out ground handling at Kirkwall airport. This appears to throw up a host of difficulties, particularly at points in the day when multiple aircraft are arriving or departing."

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott added:

"Flybe/Eastern's proposed service starting next month is extremely limited. They will use one plane based in Aberdeen to fly to Sumburgh, Edinburgh and Glasgow in one day. They are not offering a day return to Edinburgh or Glasgow from Shetland. There is no service between Orkney and Shetland. The fares seem the same as Loganair and they charge for hold baggage.

"Competition should be good. It could provide passengers with greater choice and lower fares. But that does not seem the case here. So the danger is that Flybe/Eastern are cherry picking the routes they think can make money. That could damage Loganair and Shetland could end up with a worst service. These are lifeline air services. This is not London to New York with British Airways and Virgin knocking lumps out of each other."


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