The social media led campaign to tackle the high cost of flying to and from Scottish Islands has changed its name and aims after the group successfully lobbied Loganair to introduce a ‘compassionate’ rate for those travelling due to family emergencies.
The campaign “Islanders against Flybe and Loganair’s excessive prices” has become “Islanders for Fair Air Fares”.
According to the campaigners the reason for the change was that it unfairly associated responsibility for the high cost of travel with Loganair, who are “not the only ones who have a case to answer.”
Campaign founder Scott Preston said: “Our name has changed, not because we have stopped chasing Loganair, but because we have come to the realisation since our meeting with Loganair that they are not the only ones who have a case to answer.
“We successfully argued for the introduction of the compassionate fares scheme, and it is now time to continue work on the biggest one: overall fares.
“The Scottish Government and Hial (Highlands and Islands Airports Limited) have a lot to do with our prices. We have pushed the Government on and increase to ADS and an expansion of the Scheme and we look forward to hearing more on this from them soon.
“Hial however remain distant, they do not seem to want to engage or even discuss how their passenger fee – which is among the highest in the UK for some of the worst facilities – affects each and every single island flight. They appear to be under the impression this is solely the airline’s fault.
“This is positively not the case. Every cost Hial give to Loganair has a direct impact on our ticket prices. We are therefore updating our aims and refreshing the campaign from today.
“The new campaign name is Islanders for Fair Air Fares. This is a much clearer statement of our aims than our previous name. It also ensures that people know we are targeting all those involved in our fares. Loganair deserve credit for engaging with the campaign and showing willingness to help – it’s time for the Scottish Government and Hial to do the same.”
Mr Preston said that the aims of the campaign were to seek a significant reduction in air fares for islanders and their families; to see an increase in air discount of up to 50 per cent and an expansion to the scheme to include NHS flights or find an alternative means of saving the local health boards more money. It will also continue to work with Loganair in providing the compassionate fare scheme.
The Scottish Government and Hial have been contacted by the Shetland Times and their responses will be published later.
A spokesman for Hial meanwhile said that Sumburgh Airport development manager Andrew Gower had met with Mr Preston and managing director Inglis Lyon was willing to meet the campaigners and a date had yet to be agreed for that meeting.