17th November 2018
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Islanders mount campaign against Flybe and Loganair prices

A Facebook campaign against the staggering cost of flying to and from Scottish islands has gained thousands of followers overnight.

The page, Islanders against Flybe & Loganair’s excessive prices, was set up by Shetland resident Scott Preston on Saturday and by Monday morning had gathered over 7,400 followers, which, according to Mr Preston, “shows just how strong the feeling is about this issue”.

Last week The Shetland Times reported that return flights from Lisbon to the Azores – a 1,600 mile return trip – can cost less than a return flight from Shetland to Orkney.

The Facebook page has been inundated with posts from Isles residents sharing their own experiences of flying to and from Scottish islands.

Gary Robinson

Gary Robinson: “Europe’s most expensive flight”.

Shetland Islands Council Political Leader Gary Robinson highlighted on the page that a return flight from Sumburgh airport in Shetland to Kirkwall airport in Orkney (85 miles) in July would cost over £154. This was £83 more than a return flight from Lisbon to the Azores (850 miles), saying “this could make Shetland to Orkney mile-for-mile Europe’s most expensive flight”.

Mr Preston is hoping that the page will raise the profile of the issue with the two airlines, saying “Those who live on Scottish islands deserve answers from Loganair and I hope that they will respond to the legitimate and serious issues raised by those who have posted to the page. We are not interested in hearing generic comments from a spokesperson.”

Flybe have issued a response to a member of the group through Twitter to indicate that Loganair are solely responsible for setting the prices on routes which they manage.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has previously clashed with Loganair on the issue of ticket prices, most recently challenging the airline to lower ticket prices after the global price of oil fell.

His Orkney counterpart Liam McArthur said: “It is not surprising to see how quickly this campaign has gathered support. Despite the welcome introduction of the Air Discount Scheme under the previous Scottish Executive, the cost of air travel to and from the islands remains relatively high compared to other routes.

“The current problems with flight delays and cancellations have added to the sense of frustration and anger felt locally. A combination of high fares and poor reliability is a potent mix in any circumstances, but particularly for a lifeline service such as this.

“Tavish Scott and I have sought a meeting with the Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, but it is clear that Loganair need to get to grips with the issues of cost and reliability”.

21 comments

  1. David Spence

    I would be grateful for anybody who could provide the information on the running costs of Flybe or Loganair compared to the boat.

    Yes, the flying is much quicker (55 minutes to Aberdeen from Sumburgh) but I would suspect that the running costs for the boat were much greater than the planes?

    The cheapest fare on the boat is roughly, return, about £34.00 as a ‘ walk on passenger ‘.

    I would also be interested in how much the plane, if at all, is subsidized by the Government as a percentage of the cost of a flight in comparison to this of the boat?

    I think the figures would make interesting reading?

    Reply
    • Steven Jarmson

      I couldn’t answer your questions about their percentages of profits etc, but I think, David, on this issue we will all be agreeing.
      Fly-may-be and loganair really have had it their own way for too. They’re heavily subsided by the very people they are ripping off and they seem to think its ok.
      My other gripe with them, whilst we’re on the subject, is why when they are subsidised, do they constantly vary their prices for flights. One its one price, the next its another.
      This is meant to be a life-line service.
      Its about time those responsible for giving out our taxes to these companies came to the islands, with contracts on hand, and explained how it’s such a good deal for us who are affected this mismanaged service.
      I don’t know if its a Scottish or UK government issue, regardless of fault, we need it sorted and the minister in charge of this and the ferries debacle (probably the same person) should seriously “consider their position,” just to steal a quote from our First Lady.

      Reply
    • Ross Bray

      As far as I aware there is no subsidy to the airlines . The Scottish Government subsidise islander fares, which probably doesn’t encourage airlines to keep fares low.

      Reply
      • Steven Jarmson

        As I did say, I don’t the ins and outs of air subsidies, but perhaps they aren’t subsidised to fly the route?
        I honestly don’t know.
        The Scottish Government should devolve transport to local authorities so that the SIC could either set up a Shetland company as a private, subsidised company, or they could directly subsidise a certain number of flights a week.
        Once we get the Smith Commissions recommended devolution of the Crown Estate then perhaps that money could be used to subsidise flights.

  2. Haydn Gear

    I could not believe the price that I was charged when flying by Loganair to Foula, a relatively short hop from Tingwall air strip. Clearly, the exorbitant pricing system has operated for a long time and it seems fair to say that this is yet another example of people being ripped off. But, of course, the money must be finding its way into SOMEBODY’S pocket. It’s time to reveal who is at the root of the enterprise and to make the air (bus) service more affordable.At the moment the fares charged are way off beam.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      Loganair flying to Foula?

      Reply
      • Ross Bray

        Lognair haven’t flown to Foula or Fair Isle for years. It is the SIC using Direct Flight nowadays.

      • Steven Jarmson

        Directflight operate the Foula flight under a direct contract from the SIC.
        The prices are actually pretty reasonable. How many residents commute?
        So the prices would be a once a week at absolute maximum price.
        If you look going to Bressay by car, £13, then the £40 (resident price) return plus £1.80 for a taxi to/from Tingwall airport is pretty cheap.
        By memory, the plane holds up to 10, so even if every flight was full, I’m quite sure the £400 for the flight doesn’t begin to touch the pilots wages never mind fuel and upkeep of the air craft.

  3. Peg Young

    This is good news.

    I was home for Up-Helly-Aa and had left my departure date open because I hadn’t been home for a while.

    When I booked my one-way flight to Edinburgh, I had to pay approximately £250.00 for a distance of 454 km.

    The cost of a domestic economy flight from my home, Edmonton, to Toronto, return–5,420 km–is $302.53. ( £159.09)

    Something is definitely wrong.

    Aren’t there laws against monopoly gouging???

    I wish the group all the best, and if my input is required, I will be happy to contribute.

    Reply
    • Robert Duncan

      The distance is just one factor among many.

      I’d assume the plane you took to Canada was a Boeing 777 or similarly large aircraft, with capacity for several hundred passengers. You can’t really make a fair comparison to the prop-planes used here.

      Reply
      • Robert Duncan

        Sorry, slight misread on my part there, I thought you had said Canada to Edinburgh. I would assume the aeroplane used between Edmonton and Toronto was still significantly larger but perhaps not as large as a transatlantic flight.

  4. Haydn Gear

    Yes Ali, my son and I flew from Tingwall to Foula in a small ‘plane operated by Loganair which I believe doubled up as an air ambulance. I recall that landing on what appeared from the air to be a VERY short runway felt a bit hairy ! I still have the boarding tickets (issued by Loganair) and when the woman at Tingwall checked them , she gave me a sidelong look and said. “Gear—so you’re one of THEM are you? “. I didn’t press the point !! Maybe Loganair no longer provide the Foula service which possibly gives rise to your surprised question mark. Am I right ?

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      Yep been a while but when they did fly the fares were quite reasonable considering the service, and the council provides the service now and the fares are still quite reasonable. The problems with loganair started when flybe took over the route from BA.

      Reply
  5. David Spence

    This is fictitious

    I have just done a little experiment on comparing prices from Flybe.

    I went online, filled in the form (flight from Sumburgh to Aberdeen on 01/07/2015 – Return 07/07/2015)

    The cost of such a trip booking online was £124.44

    I then phoned Flybe, the same flight times, £254.57 (the lady on the phone was unaware of islanders discount)

    A difference of £130.13

    Why should there be such a massive difference in price?

    Reply
    • Mike Grant

      Are you quite sure? I just tried the same experiment using Flybe’s website and the costs were £125 for Sumburgh to Aberdeen and £63.50 from Aberdeen to Sumburgh, for a total of £190.34 including taxes and charges.

      Reply
      • David Spence

        Yes Mike, I filled the form with the necessary information, and the total price was £124.44.

        However, I will try the same again just now. T – 16.01

        The same Mike, £124.44

      • Steven Jarmson

        This is just my point.
        2 people trying to get the same flight, booking at the same time will get two different prices.
        I fly my son up about once a year, he is no longer too fly alone, but when he was sometimes I had to pay for the chaperone, some times not.
        If I tried booking his flights one day but something went I would go back the next and the price would have changed.
        Why aren’t the flights just one fixed price, this is a life-line service. We should get regular life-line prices.

      • Steven Jarmson

        To point of phoning up Fly-May-Be to book a flight, they do advertise that their tickets will be more expensive if you phone rather than booking on-line.

  6. Paul Meyer

    I’ve just booked my wife to fly down to Southampton in August to escort our grandson back to Shetland for his holiday with us. Two weeks later, she then escorts him back to Southampton and flies back a week or so later. How much? No change out of £750 and that’s with her ADS – islander discount!

    Two years ago, by paying roughly £40 Flybe were happy to escort youngsters up to age 11and 364 days (they can fly alone from age 12) to Aberdeen whereby I’d catch the ferry and bring him to Shetland on the boat. The cost at that time in total was less than £400. Not a small amount, but something we were happy as pensioners to pay each year to have our grandson visit. For both of us to visit him each year would have been prohibitive.

    Now, because Flybe don’t any longer fly direct from Aberdeen to Southampton and a change is required at Manchester, the ‘unaccompanied’ child can’t be accommodated because of Flybe’s rules ! One can only speculate that Flybe ‘conveniently’ knocked these direct flights from Aberdeen to Southampton on the head so elderly Shetlanders are forced to pay more to have their grandchildren visit them from time to time.

    SHAME ON YOU FLYBE!!

    Reply
    • Alvin Leong

      Oh yes, I am sure Flybe scraped the ABZ – SOU just to screw the thousands of Shetland pensioners flying on that route!

      Reply
  7. Chris Black

    One thing that’s always struck me about Shetland flights – why does there need to be routes from Edinburgh/Glasgow/Aberdeen & Inverness?

    Occupancy rates might be up in recent years- (would be interested to see to what they actually are?) but I’ve flown many flights from all of the above over the years that have been less than half full?

    Surely would make simple sense to operate more flights from one main airport (with maybe 1/2 stop over’s on one or all of the routes?) meaning fuller flights, lower costs & cheaper flights?

    Maybe less convenient sometimes but no different to flying abroad where we regularly leave from different airports pending destination?

    Anyone shed any light?

    Reply

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