Highlands & Islands

Flybe discontinues some Scottish island routes

Flybe Image copyright PA

Flybe has announced that it is to discontinue its Glasgow to Stornoway and Aberdeen to Kirkwall flights.

The services, operated by Eastern Airways, were run in competition to Loganair flights, sparking a price war.

The last services will be operated on 4 March. Flybe said the decision was taken because the routes had not shown signs of being commercially viable.

The airline also announced it is to add 12 flights a week and a Sunday service between Aberdeen and Stornoway.

Following an approach by Flybe, Loganair has agreed to assist the airline by honouring its forward bookings on services between Stornoway and Glasgow.

'Naturally disappointed'

Loganair said it would work with Flybe to provide seats on its services to guarantee travel plans and customers would be contacted by Flybe to arrange re-booking in the coming days.

Roy Kinnear, Flybe's chief commercial officer, said it had become evident that the Aberdeen to Kirkwall route was not commercially viable for either Flybe or Eastern Airways.

On the other route, he said: "We are naturally disappointed that passenger volumes on the Glasgow to Stornoway route have remained below the level needed to make it commercially viable for either Flybe or Eastern Airways.

"However, we look forward to Eastern's established franchise flights continuing to serve customers travelling between Stornoway and Aberdeen."

Mr Kinnear said the increased frequency on this route would "enhance the opportunities" to connect with Flybe's flights from Aberdeen, including to London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham.

'Intense competition'

Loganair's managing director Jonathan Hinkles said the company had always maintained that island routes could not economically sustain two airlines.

He said: "The competition has been short-lived but intense, and we are grateful to the people of the Northern and Western Isles for their tremendous support, which has been unwavering - seeing over seven in every 10 passengers choosing to fly with Loganair.

Image copyright Loganair
Image caption Loganair says it is committed to providing sustainable air services to remote communities

"I'd also like to extend my gratitude to our entire team who have worked tirelessly to provide an excellent quality of service for passengers."

Mr Hinkles added: "Our priority now is to continue the focus on providing the reliable, cost-effective and sustainable air services for Scotland's most remote communities."

Western Isles SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, said he was disappointed that there would no longer be competition on flights between Stornoway and Glasgow.

'Matter of time'

He added: "However, this was not unexpected news, as both companies seemed to be focused on pushing each other off this route, rather than on providing islanders with a wider choice of times of the day to fly at.

"This has caused more than a few issues in terms of timetabling and airport arrangements."

Orkney Lib Dem MSP, Liam McArthur, said the decision on the future of Flybe's Aberdeen to Kirkwall route was also not unexpected.

He said: "Ever since Flybe took the decision late last year to end its Shetland services, this announcement has seemed a matter of time.

"The loss of competition is disappointing, but over the longer term it did risk undermining the viability of both Flybe and Loganair.

"Given the lifeline nature of these routes, that was not a risk anyone in Orkney could afford."

Western Isles local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said it hoped levels of service and affordability of fares on the Glasgow to Stornoway route would be maintained, as much as possible, to the current levels.

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