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Hebrides News


The next salvo in the Stornoway air wars is kicking off with Flybe providing a more robust service to Lewis.


Loganair is the victor of the first round in the price cuts battle by regaining a monopoly in Shetland when its rival pulls out of Sumburgh on Monday – after just four months of intense competition.


Prices of air travel to Shetland will now soar as the winning firm seeks to recoup the losses incurred in the bitter fares battle.


But Flybe is hitting back by improving its Lewis services.


Its Glasgow - Stornoway route is performing better than forecast and it is determined to capitalise on the growth says the airline


From next week, the Devon based airline will base a plane overnight at Stornoway Airports two nights a week, offering a “first flight in the morning” southbound departure, a more robust schedule, and better onward links.


Lewis passengers wanted a more convenient Monday and Tuesday dawn flight.


Fares nosedived to as low as low as £33 - a third cheaper than ferry and bus - on the Stornoway - Glasgow route after the aviation carrier joined forces with Eastern Airways to compete head-to-head with Loganair on its traditional routes in September.


Loganair insists there is only room in the market for one airline but Flybe disagrees saying its joint venture with Eastern Airways is bringing prices down, offering more choice and increasing affordable air travel.


Disrupted and late services as well as plane breakdowns and delays by relying on just one plane was the root problem for Shetland says Flybe.


Loganair reckons the low fares are uneconomic with the firm’s commercial director Kay Ryan highlighting the standard £52 one-way ticket from the central belt.


“From Glasgow, you pay £13 Air Passenger Duty and £11.22 airport charges so collect a basic fare of £27.78 per passenger,” explained Ms Ryan.


“Even with a full flight, that doesn’t generate enough income to pay for landing and handling fees, air traffic control charges, fuel and maintenance.


“Flights at that cost simply aren’t viable,” she stressed.


Ms Ryan added: “It’s clear that the service delivery of Eastern Airways, which operates these flights for Flybe, is no better than it was in Shetland,” with poor reliability and delays.


“Our monitoring shows it has cancelled 21 flights between Glasgow and Stornoway in the last three months, compared to just two Loganair flight cancellations at the height of Storm Caroline in the same period.”


Stornoway route performs better than anticipated says Flybe

5 January 2018