Flight delay court cases could close routes, says Loganair boss
The boss of Scots airline Loganair has said a rise in compensation claims for flights hit by bad weather could force it to cancel routes.
Jonathan Hinkles said some no-win no-fee lawyers were aggressively targeting airlines after trawling for customers whose flights had been disrupted.
Meanwhile, Loganair is back in profit after losses of almost £9m.
The company was hit with huge restructuring costs after the breakdown of a franchise deal with rival Flybe.
It resulted in a damaging price war, with the two competing on several Highland routes.
Elsewhere, EU legislation has made it easier for people to launch legal claims if there are problems with their flights, but Mr Hinkles told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme the laws had been badly written.
He said: "What we're now seeing is people starting to take cases to court because of weather delays - we can do nothing about that as an airline. All we can do is look after our customers.
"To be faced with paying compensation which exceeds the value of the ticket by several times for those types of delay is really bad news - for the Highlands and Islands in particular."
Mr Hinkles said the trend had already made some services at other airlines unviable, adding: "You've seen a number of routes close within the UK.
"We haven't had any of those within Loganair's route network.
But if that is extended through case law to weather delays, it's got the absolute potential to see some smaller marginal routes - also flying in and out of airports prone to weather delays which we are in Scotland, particularly in the Loganair network - it's got the potential to render those routes unviable."
Meanwhile, Loganair has announced a £1m annual profit and a £120m turnover, following the restructuring costs it was hit with after the Flybe affair.
The Glasgow-based airline, which flies to several European countries, said it was now the UK's fifth-biggest by number of flights.
It took on pilots, cabin crew and engineers from the collapsed regional airline Flybmi and has launched, or is launching, new routes in Essex and Carlisle as well as Norway, Denmark, Germany and Brussels.
Mr Hinkles said: "It's proof the strategy we embarked on to rebrand Loganair as Scotland's airline nearly two years ago is working - and it's against a background where the industry's got a lot of challenges."
For the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.