Concerns have been voiced that Stornoway Airport could be overwhelmed by extra passengers
at peak times when Flybe and Loganair launch competing services.
The comhairle is urging the Scottish Government to “urgently intervene” to ensure
there are no delays or negative impact for travellers when they go head-to-head on
the Stornoway - Glasgow route in two weeks.
Rival planes will be landing and taking off within minutes of each other putting
pressure on airport services and baggage handling as the battle for passengers intensifies.
With islanders snapping up cheap flights thanks to an early air fares war between
the two companies, there are concerns an increased number of people checking-in at
the same time may mean longer security queues and delay take-off.
Loganair will run four flights daily while Flybe’s joint venture with Eastern Airways
lays on another three services on top of the other planes operating from the government
Uisdean Robertson, chairman of the council‘s transport committee, said: “Whilst the
council continues to cautiously welcome the additional services being provided by
the airlines, we have separately expressed concerns regarding the capacity of Stornoway
Airport to accommodate the additional aircraft and flights.
“The provision of additional flights and the timetables proposed will give rise to
increased air traffic during peak periods and concerns have been expressed regarding
the capacity of air traffic management arrangements, of aircraft parking arrangements
adjacent to the terminal - currently four spaces - and of the equipment, infrastructure
and staffing available for unloading and loading baggage from the increased number
of aircraft at certain times of the day.”
Mr Robertson added: “It is understood that, with less than three weeks to go before
the additional services being introduced, agreement has yet to be reached between
Flybe, Loganair and HIAL on these and other salient matters.”
The council has raised their concerns with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf - who
has responsibilities for government owned HIAL which operates airports in the north
“to ask that he intervene in these matters as a matter of urgency.”
Mr Robertson seeks to “ensure that all potential possible benefits from the introduction
of the additional services are realised and that there is no possibility that the
success of the proposed changes is in any way undermined by an inability or failing
of the airlines or HIAL to accommodate these services to the detriment of those wishing
to travel to, from and within the Outer Hebrides.”
A HIAL spokesperson said: “The HIAL team are in constant contact with both Loganair
and Eastern Airways in terms of the new services due to be introduced next month.
“Our number one priority, as always, is to ensure the people of the Highlands and
Islands are provided with a safe, reliable service that delivers connectivity and
sustainability to their communities.
“We are content that the infrastructure and staff of Stornoway airport will facilitate
a successful operation for both airlines.”
Concerns if Stornoway Airport airport can cope as extra passengers snap up cheap