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Hebrides News




It was with a heavy heart that I read the Loganair response to the call to designate the Glasgow - Benbecula route as a Public Service Obligation (PSO).


I have used this service regularly for the last year and though I have found the staff universally helpful at Glasgow, Benbecula and Barra I would like to challenge delusions Jonathan Hinkles (Loganair’s chief executive) tries to peddle as fact in the article in Heb News on 21st March.


Mr Hinkles seeks to conflate two different issues to confuse the reader, firstly the alleged timetable improvements, and secondly the funding mechanism itself.


In the first instance he tells us how ironic it is that that the call to designate the route as PSO comes at a time of timetable improvements be the airline. What has this got to do with anything?


Surely the airline should continually seek to improve the customer experience rather than take them for granted as undoubtedly Loganair have done. Should we now be grateful that they’ve “improved” this timetable?


By extension we should also be grateful that under the new timetable there are some days when the only direct into Benbecula is at 7.15am - hardly convenient I would have thought, so make sure you book early for the 25th of April! A huge improvement indeed, though I’m sure he can point to a massive consultation exercise to support his assertion.


Then we move onto the PSO issue itself. It has baffled me as I am sure it has baffled many people in the Uists as to why we should pay the extortionate fees levied by Loganair whilst in Barra they seem have a very sensible arrangement that supports their economy, does not penalise people coming to the island and does not require the bureaucracy of the Air Discount Scheme.


I can accept that we have an extra ferry leaving these islands (albeit over 50 miles away in some cases and unreliable too) but we have no airline competition to drive prices down and are therefore at mercy of Loganair and out of touch managers such as Mr Hinkles.


Oh and finally, we live in an age when travel plans, especially for those workers whose work takes them away from the islands, have to be flexible. In order to recognise this Loganair charges £80 per flight change plus the fare difference, again I suppose that should consider ourselves lucky and that they could profiteer more if they weren’t such good guys.


In short the staff are fantastic, prices are extortionate, the service is unreliable, the alleged improvements a joke and it is difficult to see any improvement since the franchise was operated by Flybe last summer. Is it not time for Humza Yousaf to step in and sort out this mess?


Ronnie Mackenzie


South Uist.


Letter: Loganair’s “extortionate and unreliable” service

2 April 2018