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Scotland to Shetland costs almost the same as flight to Thailand

Loganair has announced a direct Norway to Shetland winter flight in time for the world-famous festival.
Loganair has announced a direct Norway to Shetland winter flight in time for the world-famous festival.

Thousands of angry passengers have forced an airline to meet a group which mounted a Facebook campaign against the cost of flying to and from Scottish Islands.

The protest launched at the weekend has really taken off – having gained more than 12,500 followers.

Islanders say it highlights that mile for mile they face some of the highest air fares in the world.

As an example they claim that a flight between Aberdeen and Bangkok in Thailand today – a distance of 5891 miles – will cost £472.

While a 297 mile flight from Sumburgh in Shetland to Glasgow today will cost £448.

Now Loganair has agreed to meet protesters.

“Since starting the group our first priority has been to obtain a meeting with senior management at Loganair. A short while ago we were emailed by Loganair agreeing to a meeting with some of their management team,” it announced today.

“This meeting may not be a public/open meeting. This is to give Loganair and us a fair chance to air views and discuss everything without fear of interruption and to keep matters cordial which we have always tried to do in the group. A public meeting with individuals raising individual grievances could detract from the overall impact of the meeting.”

Sumburgh Airport on Shetland

The meeting will try to provide clarity on costs and a considerate system for those who are attending funerals of family members in the islands.

“We have been inundated with messages from people who have had to pay adult fares for their children, from students who have never found how to get a student fare or what discount they are entitled to, and from NHS-travellers who have never been offered a discount that Loganair claims to offer,” said the group.

“We have heard a lot of horror stories from our users about being unable to afford to travel up at short notice for the funeral of a family member. We’d like to see a sensible funeral booking system in place for immediate family members returning to or leaving from to the islands. Many users have reported a half-full plane when travelling. We’d like to see Loganair sell unused seats to those attending funerals for the basic fare.

“We are planning for the meeting to be held in Shetland and we will be inviting along our local councillors, the local MP and MSP in order to have representatives from Holyrood and Westminster.

“This is great news and is the first step on a long road but it shows that Loganair are willing to engage with us and that is something really positive.”

The page, Islanders Against Flybe and Loganair’s Excessive Prices, was set up by Shetland resident Scott Preston on Saturday night.

Scotland’s Island Councils have now also backed the campaign.

Western Isles Council Leader Angus Campbell said:”A number of islanders have questioned why fares are so high. As an example, after a quick look on the Flybe website this afternoon I notice that a flight from Stornoway to Glasgow today (Wednesday) and returning tomorrow (Thursday) would cost a total of £351. Just a few days later, the same company is offering a return flight from Aberdeen to Faro in Portugal for just £21 more.”

The page has been inundated with posts from Isles residents sharing their own experiences of flying to and from Scottish islands.

IAFLEP also claims a flight from Edinburgh to Shetland for four adults and a child could cost as much as £1375.

One passenger said a last-minute flight from Shetland to Birmingham for an adult and a child cost her £1000.

Shetland Islands Council Political Leader Gary Robinson highlighted on the page that a return flight from Sumburgh airport in Shetland to Kirkwall airport in Orkney – a distance of 85 miles – in July would cost over £154. This was £83 more expensive than a return flight from Lisbon to the Azores – 850 miles – saying “this could make Shetland to Orkney mile-for-mile Europe’s most expensive flight”.

Mr Preston is hoping that the page will raise the profile of the issue with the two airlines, sayin:”Those who live on Scottish islands deserve answers from Loganair and I hope that they will respond to the legitimate and serious issues raised by those who have posted to the page. We are not interested in hearing generic comments from a spokesperson.

“Loganair caters almost exclusively to remote islands who rely on their service. Those communities need a strategy that works for them.

“They’re are pulling the wool over our eyes by denying that they receive a subsidy. Every time you book a flight through the Air Discount Scheme, the Scottish Government has to pay Loganair.

“Were it not for the Air Discount Scheme, passenger numbers would collapse because the cost is simply too high.

“We recognise and agree that Air Passenger Duty and airport charges contributes to the cost of a flight, but once again Loganair are failing to address another issue which puts up the cost – not all flights from all areas include on-board service and some passengers do not get a 20kg luggage allowance, yet are expected to pay as if they did.

“They’ve have made no attempt to explain why it is reasonable to charge almost £700 for a hospital patient and a patient escort’s day return to Glasgow, or why an all inclusive holiday to the Mediterranean would be cheaper than coming home for Christmas.

“We will be requesting further answers.”

Michelle Findlay? told of her plight on the page.

“Our daughter is being treated in Glasgow as has cancer. We are from Orkney and are unable to get flights for my husband and son to visit our daughter as there is only one flight a day and never any seats!

“Prices are a disgrace too. As well as campaigning against cost we should be trying to tell Flybe that their services do not meet the needs of islanders and their overall service to customers is very poor,” she wrote.

While James Stewart added:”Just checked it out – to go down next weekend would cost £371.76 – per person!”

A spokesman for Loganair said: “Like all commercial transport providers, Loganair offers a tiered fare structure and prices are determined by flight, by day and by season – particularly on busy routes.

“As is the case with most airlines, fares purchased in close proximity to the time of departure are generally more expensive.

“Loganair is one of the few airlines which continues to offer a 33% discount for children as well as concession fares for students and family members visiting a relative in hospital.

“Loganair operates flights from Shetland, Orkney, and the Western Isles at their own commercial risk without any government subsidy.

“All fares are inclusive of third-party costs including airport charges and Air Passenger Duty – typically a combined £40 charge per passenger per round trip to/from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“With the Scottish Government’s Air Discount Scheme, island residents benefit from a 40% discount of the fare excluding airport charges and Air Passenger Duty.

“In addition, passengers are entitled to a free 20kg luggage allowance and onboard service.”

Flybe said that Loganair are solely responsible for setting the prices on routes which they manage.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has previously clashed with Loganair on the issue of ticket prices, most recently challenging the airline to lower ticket prices after the global price of oil fell.

He and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur are seeking a meeting with transport minister Derek Mackay.