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Eastern Airways is fighting Loganair for customers as they prepare to go head-to-head on a number of Hebridean and Northern Isles services.

 

A price war has kicked off on the Stornoway - Glasgow flights with the newcomer’s offering outbound fights for just under £50 while Loganair’s cheapest standard price is £66.

 

But Loganair insist their rival’s baggage charges would erode any savings.

 

Loganair presently has an effective monopoly on the vast majority of mainland to island routes but now Eastern - in a joint venture with Flybe - has jumped into fray to compete on the busier routes.

 

The Paisley-based firm is pulling out of a franchise arrangement with Flybe and will fly as an independent airline from 1 September.

 

Eastern is jumping into the gap and struck a deal with to fly under Flybe colours, continuing its branded service on the selected routes.

 

For islanders it means there will be two rival airlines fighting on price, choice and number of flights.

 

Instead of about three flights a day with a single operator dictating ticket prices, there will be six flights with competition controlling seat charges.

Loganair thought it had the routes to themselves.

 

The lack of competition was always considered a problem in the islands, being perceived to be keeping seat prices high.

 

The comhairle is taking a cautious approach to the announcement, holding underlying reservations that islanders could be worse off in the long term if one airline pulls out following a bruising sky wars dogfight.

The authority said it “notes” Flybe’s announcement to “join with Eastern Airways to provide additional air services on some routes between the Western Isles and the mainland.

 

A council spokesman said: “We have yet to ascertain from the airlines the finer detail of what is being proposed.

 

“However, at this stage it appears that the development may, in the short-term at least, introduce an element of competition and greater choice, flexibility and affordability for customers travelling on certain routes to and from the Western Isles.

 

“We shall be seeking meetings with all the airlines involved as soon as possible to enable us to develop a clearer picture of what the announcement may mean for the longer-term sustainability of air services to the Western Isles.”

 

Fears a price war on the Stornoway - Glasgow air route may threaten the long term viability of flights has prompted Western Isles Council to seek urgent meetings with two rival airlines.

A Flybe / Eastern joint venture will compete with Loganair   

Price war could have long term implication for plane service  

14 June 2017