Isles MP Alistair Carmichael accused Flybe of “getting off with commercial murder” yesterday after his call for a roundtable meeting to investigate mounting concerns about the quality of the lifeline flight service offered by Flybe was ignored by a junior transport minister.
Mr Carmichael raised the issue during transport questions in the House of Commons, pointing to anger about the “increasing cost and the decreasing quality of services” since Flybe took over the franchise.
He asked parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Paul Clark whether he would set a meeting with his counterpart in the Scottish parliament and local representatives to help “ensure that those people who need the services most get the best quality service from them”.
Mr Clark replied: “Let me make very clear that we continue to support the use of public service obligations as a means of helping to subsidise what are very important lifeline services for communities, such as those which the honourable member represents. “Certainly some of the issues to which he refers will be partly a commercial decision making process but let me give him an assurance that I am willing to look very much in terms as to how we can ensure that we continue to make sure those people and communities have those lifeline services.”
Mr Carmichael said afterwards that the minister had not answered the question he had asked. “It is undeniable that there is growing concern at the impact that Flybe’s influence has had on our lifeline air services. This is an area where the overlap between Holyrood responsibilities and Westminster responsibilities can be dangerous.
“There is a need for ministers in both governments to act together to ensure that the substantial amount of public money that is put into this service operates for the benefit of the passenger and not just the operator.”