Flybe is entering into direct competition with its outgoing partner Loganair by offering services to and from Sumburgh.
A new five-year partnership will see flights being offered between Shetland, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow following an agreement signed with Eastern Airways.
It comes just six months after an announcement that Loganair and Flybe would go their separate ways this September following an end of their long-standing franchise agreement.
The agreement will see Eastern provide four aircraft under the Flybe brand in a joint revenue and risk sharing agreement.
The obvious hope for customers is that the decision to offer competition will lead to better pricing. The 50 per cent air discount scheme will still be made available to passengers from the isles.
Chairman of the council’s environment and transport committee, Ryan Thomson, welcomed the news.
“It’s absolutely fantastic news for Shetland – for folk who are commuting, and for Shetland overall.
“It’s good for our tourism, and it’s going to be a unique situation for Shetlanders having to shop around for the cheapest price.
“Competition on the Shetland route can only be a good thing, and I do hope that it leads to cheaper fares and helps drive down he fares for those who are travelling to and from the islands.”
The announcement has not been universally welcomed, however.
Loganair’s managing director Jonathan Hinkles voiced “disappointment and surprise”.
“We have been negotiating in good faith with senior Flybe staff about a continuing relationship to ensure that customers could connect from all of Loganair’s extensive Highlands and Islands network to the rest of the UK. Many of these connections will now be lost as a result of Flybe’s decision.”
He said Flybe was intent on “challenging us head-to-head” on a number of its traditional and established routes.
“But we are Scotland’s Airline, and I can promise them that we are up for the fight. We’ve invested a huge amount in the infrastructure – engineers, ground handling, support staff – to provide our Highlands and Islands services and
we’re here to stay.”