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Ronnie Mackenzie raises some interesting points in his letter - Loganair’s extortionate and unreliable service - of 2 April.


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 unrealistic prospect.


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 and Fridays.


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.


Jonathan Hinkles

Managing Director



Letter: Loganair aims to maintain “reliable and affordable air services

3 April 2018