Mr Mackenzie compares fares to Benbecula to those on the Glasgow-Barra route.
Fares on the Glasgow-Barra route are at exactly the same level as they were in 1992
– there has been no price inflation at all over the last 25 years. It is a matter
for the Scottish Government under the PSO mechanism as to where those fares are set.
However, to expand the same policy of maintaining fares at the same levels as 1992
despite the intervening 25 years of inflation would mean a massive increase in Scottish
Government subvention for air services across all Highland and Island routes. Of
course, it could be done – against a background of public sector spending constraints
and several studies in that time which have suggested mass imposition of PSOs is
inadvisable. We estimate it would cost at least £20 million – more than three times
the current government support for the valuable Air Discount Scheme. It seems a pretty
One of the reasons that I heard to support the call for a PSO was around improvements
to schedules. [I guess I may be more in tune with local discussion than Mr Mackenzie
perhaps would give me credit for!] My point in raising this was that Loganair has
improved schedules of its own accord. Nevertheless, I hope that the changes are broadly
welcome, particularly with a schedule more suited to the needs of commuters on Mondays
In terms of service reliability, I’m offended by Mr Mackenzie’s comments and I know
that all of the Loganair team will share that feeling. Weather at Benbecula is the
largest single impact on our service provision and we work hard to battle through
the elements to deliver a service wherever we safely can. Taking weather delays out
of the equation, the punctuality and reliability on our Benbecula flights was quite
a way above the UK average for all domestic flights in 2017 and I’m confident that
it will be even better in 2018.
Where we’re looking for ways forward to reduce costs, I’d like to make a few comments.
Firstly, the HIAL airport charges per passenger are more than double those at mainland
airports – adding around £10 to every return ticket. Island fuel prices are double
those at Glasgow and so to keep ticket prices as low as we can, we carry roundtrip
fuel for every flight from Glasgow, but that means we burn fuel to transport that
fuel. The high level of weather delays also incur significant cost for us to look
after customers and accommodate them overnight as needs be. Add those three elements
together and it’s at least £25 per ticket. The Air Discount Scheme helps to mitigate
some of the effects of these costs, but it’s still a high cost service to provide.
On the subject of change fees, the majority of tickets on our service are sold between
10 months and two weeks before travel. The vast majority of flight changes take place
within two weeks of intended travel, so our opportunity to re-sell those seats released
by customers changing their bookings is much reduced. The change fee is a balance
between the need for customer flexibility and our ability to re-sell the seat. Lower
change fees would result in higher fares, or vice versa – it’s the same for every
airline, and Loganair’s change fees are below those of many other airlines.
It would be a lovely prospect to be able to satisfy every customer on every occasion
by having plentiful access to low fare seats, high flight frequencies and no ticket
change fees. In the real world, however, I’m afraid that we’ll simply have to keep
doing the utmost that we can to maintain reliable and affordable air services.
Letter: Loganair aims to maintain “reliable and affordable air services