The head of Loganair has pledged to come to the next meeting of the external transport forum to address concerns about service reliability, chairman Michael Stout told a meeting of the forum this week.
He said that new operations director Maurice Boyle was “keen to see things improving”, following recent criticism of the safety and reliability of the service.
Pilots’ union Balpa last month wrote to Loganair about the worrying condition of the planes, and there have been many technical problems resulting in delays – one in four flights in recent weeks has been 15 minutes or more late.
Lead officer of ZetTrans Michael Craigie said that Mr Boyle, who had only been in post three weeks, had previously thought it was too soon to visit Shetland, but was now coming to describe the progress made in achieving reliability.
Forum members wanted a representative from Flybe to come too.
Councillor Alastair Cooper said that Loganair was the franchisee, and taking all the “flak”. But, he said: “Flybe’s reputation is on the line, they should be up here, I’d like them both up here.”
Mr Craigie said that Loganair owned the planes, but used the Flybe brand to sell services. This meant that Loganair represented Flybe.
He said that flights to and from Shetland were offered on a purely commercial basis and received no government subsidy, unlike the lifeline North Boats service.
Flybe’s reputation is on the line, they should be up here,
I’d like them both up here – ALASTAIR COOPER
Loganair had no obligation to provide a service, and the government could not subsidise it except in the case of “market failure”, where the service was not viable on its own (for example, if it was too expensive for people to use).
Mr Craigie added that there was no relationship between Loganair and the Scottish government, but at present Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles were producing a report about “what an air service should look like”. This should “clarify a lot of things people are wrestling with”, and hopefully establish how to ensure affordable travel.