Loganair has been forced to take some Sumburgh flights off sale as an air traffic controllers’ strike edges closer.
The company has taken steps to lessen the impact of imminent industrial action by staff at some Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) airports next month.
Flights to and from airports in Sumburgh, Kirkwall and Stornoway on 26th April have been removed from sale, with customers already booked on this date being offered the chance to book flights on another day for free.
The move comes as air traffic controllers at seven Hial airports prepare to begin action short of a strike from Monday, with a full stoppage planned for Friday 26th April.
Talks are still ongoing between Hial and the Prospect union about bringing the strike to an end, but Prospect has stated that for air traffic controllers to return to work there must be a “meaningful offer” on the table.
Loganair yesterday stated a “small selection” of flights between April 1st and May 27th have also been re-timed by between five and 20 minutes as a result of potential “short of strike” action.
The company said that customers had been made aware of these changes.
Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “It’s regrettable that we have had to inconvenience a small amount of our passengers and we hope our early intervention will minimise any impact.
“We remain hopeful that a resolution can be found to avoid any further changes for our customers.”
The Prospect union voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action on 1st March, with 88 per cent of air traffic controllers polled voting to strike.
The decision came on the back of a feud that has run since November 2018, when air traffic controllers rejected a two per cent pay increase from Hial.
They have instead called for a 10 per cent increase in pay.
Hial has continually stated that this demand cannot be met, with managing director Inglis Lyon saying at the start of March that, as Hial is a government-sponsored agency, they “cannot implement pay rewards more than that directed by government.”
A meeting between Prospect and Hial in Inverness last Friday again resulted in a stalemate, with Prospect rejecting a new offer put forward by Hial.
A Hial spokesperson said after the meeting that Prospect’s position remained the same, with the trade union seeking a “minimum of a double-digit increase effective from April 1, 2018”.
Prospect’s negotiations officer, David Avery, stated defiantly that “members demands are reasonable and they need to be addressed.”