Calls have been made for Shetland’s “lifeline” air-links to the UK mainland to be safeguarded in the face of threatened strike action by BAA workers down south.
Head of the Sumburgh Airport Consultative Committee, Jimmy Smith, warned councillors and transport officials at Monday’s ZetTrans meeting that services could be at risk from the growing industrial unrest among Unite members employed at the country’s main airports.
His warning came as high-level talks were due to begin in an attempt to avert the strike from taking place after security staff, engineers and firefighters voted against a 1.5 per cent pay offer.
Three of Scotland’s biggest airports – Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow – operate under BAA. Mr Smith said smaller, non-BAA airports, such as Inverness, Dundee and Prestwick could be available for Shetland flights if the industrial action goes ahead.
However, he said larger flights coming from Gatwick, for example, would prove more attractive for some of the smaller Scottish airports, leaving Sumburgh flights at risk of being left out in the cold.
Mr Smith called for ZetTrans to write to Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (HIAL) and other airports to put forward the case for Shetland.
“It’s possible airports would rather bring a 737 from Gatwick than a Saab from Sumburgh,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see us lose slots. What I want to do is safeguard our lifeline flights from here so that passengers can get away.”