Northern Isles MSPs to push for better Air Services at meeting with Transport Minister

Orkney and Shetland’s lifeline air service must be cheaper, more reliable and efficient says Liam McArthur and Tavish Scott. The Orkney and Shetland MSPs will meet the Scottish Transport Minister today (Tuesday) in Holyrood.

They will highlight the online campaign signed by more than 10,000 islanders wanting better air services. Both McArthur and Scott have been inundated with complaints over the current service in recent days. They will press the Scottish Government to invest in the Air Discount Scheme and put pressure on Flybe and the airports over cost, reliability and service.

Speaking before the meeting Tavish Scott said,

“Overnight I have had more complaints about the Flybe service. People say it is expensive, unreliable and a poor passenger experience. This is made worse by the security shambles at Edinburgh Airport. I agree. I know that Flybe has lost engineers to other airlines. So the planes going technical has become the norm. This weekend was pretty standard. Delays, missed connections, appointments and other arrangements, and passengers being bumped from overbooked flights. Flybe have to accept their service is failing the needs of islanders. Management also put intolerable pressure on their local staff in the Islands who face the ire of passengers annoyed by the continual disruption. That is not fair on hard working local staff.

“Many people now call Flybe Flymaybe. This cannot go on. The airline must get a grip of their service.

“The Scottish Government wrongly cut the Air Discount Scheme so that some islanders are no longer eligible. They should reverse that. They also could cut landing changes at airports they own such as Sumburgh and Kirkwall. The status quo is unacceptable. We need improvements and the islands need them now.”

Liam McArthur said:

“Passengers using these lifeline routes have become increasingly dissatisfied with the service they are receiving. Reliability is now such a problem that those who can are booking flights a day before they need to travel in order to avoid the risk of missing connections or important meetings. That situation is just not sustainable.

“To add insult to injury, the decision by Scottish Ministers to withdraw ADS support for anyone travelling on business means that islanders are paying more for a less reliable service.

“As if this wasn’t bad enough, new security screening arrangements at Edinburgh airport are leading to lengthy delays at peak periods, with the risk of flights being missed.

“Not all of this is in the gift of the Minister to resolve, but much of it is. Ultimately, these are lifeline air services for our island communities. Tavish and I, therefore, will be looking for a positive response from Mr Mackay when we meet him later today”.

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