Flybe says it is in for the long haul after coming under fire from airline rivals Loganair as they go head-to-head for passengers.
Company chiefs met with the public today as Flybe and Eastern Airways outlined plans for their new service starting in September.
The five-year partnership is offering flights between Shetland, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow after Loganair and Flybe decided to part ways.
Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener stressed the airline was in it for the long term, after heavy criticism from Loganair chief Jonathan Hinkles. He said the airline was only committed for a year and that it was looking to “cherry-pick” Loganair’s busiest routes.
Questions in the public meeting were broad-ranging and included matters of reliability, plus a worry if Loganair was muscled out of the picture prices could again increase.
Flybe said it was unhappy with inacurracies by Mr Hinkles, previously reported in The Shetland Times.
Asked to clarify what the company felt was inaccurate, chief revenue officer Vincent Hodder said it decided to “let it go” and it did not want to comment on the accusations further.
However, Ms Ourmieres-Widener said Flybe was committed to longer than a year. Afterwards she stressed there was no time-scale for the service.
“We are committed to the regional communities and to Shetland for the long-term,” she said. “We are not launching a project like this one, just because we think it is a nice thing to do.
“It will be an interesting story but for us we think it is a good story for Shetland, because it’s about a market that is growing so I think there’s a positive side of this story.
“Just to underline that we are here to show our service, our long-term commitment and we understand the life-line importance of an airline connection.”
Flybe will use a single Embraer E-170 jet service between Sumburgh and Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow with a back-up plane in Aberdeen and an engineer in Shetland.
It will offer up to five flights a day from Sumburgh to Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Three flights will be held Monday to Friday to Aberdeen with one a day during the working week for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Meanwhile there will be two flights on Saturday and on Sunday to Aberdeen, and one on Saturday and Sunday to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
• More in Friday’s Shetland Times