A Shetland designer says Loganair are losing the faith of islanders after their Shetland-bound flight suffered a fault.
Rod Kelly was returning home from a business trip in London on Monday when his plane was grounded due to a technical fault.
The 66-year-old freelance designer was one of 12 passengers left waiting at Heathrow Airport after the 9.45am LM0622 Heathrow to Sumburgh flight, via Dundee, was cancelled.
Speaking to The P&J, Mr Kelly claims there was little, to no communication from the airline as they frantically searched for a flight north.
He said: “We were on the runway, the plane accelerating, and then it suddenly decelerated and very quickly we were off the runway and parked up.
“There was no information until the stewardess said you realise there is a problem, it’s a technical problem. We are probably going to get a bus and take you back to the terminal.
“The bus came so we waited patiently, and we could hear people talking. They were trying to get an email from Loganair to find out what to do with us, but there was no plan. It was as if this had never happened before.”
Shetland passenger calls out Loganair for lack of communication
After sitting by the aircraft for around an hour, passengers were taken back to terminal two where they were instructed to pass back through security.
The designer said the ordeal became very stressful very quickly as he claims people were left clueless as to their next move.
He claims one passenger became very distressed over fears she would miss an important appointment at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee to speak about her mother’s care.
After numerous failed attempts to contact Loganair directly, passengers navigated their way to terminal five after securing a seat onboard a British Airways flight to Aberdeen. From there, the group caught an onward Loganair flight home to Sumburgh.
Mr Kelly finally made it home by 7.30pm; six hours later than originally planned.
However, he stressed concern for the Dundee passengers he left behind at Heathrow.
He added: “We are paying £260 for a return flight to London of which I should have been back at 1.30pm; it’s been a nightmare. I had to do, alongside all the other passengers, all the work. We had to chase BA and get to terminal five. There was no-one to help us.
“Loganair just washed their hands of it.”
Loganair officials contested Mr Kelly’s claims saying it was in fact Loganair that arranged their travel with British Airways.
Meanwhile, passengers travelling to Dundee were booked onto Loganair’s next available service.
In a statement, a spokesman for Loganair said: “Our outbound aircraft encountered a technical fault before departure and, following cancellation, the majority of customers in order of priority were rebooked by Loganair onto the next available British Airways flight to Aberdeen, facilitating onward travel to Sumburgh.
“Remaining customers were placed on Loganair’s next Heathrow to Dundee service.
“Safety will always be our first priority and there will be occasions when this results in flights not taking place as planned. While we appreciate this is never welcome, Loganair is committed to ensuring customers are brought to their final destination.”
‘Loganair needs to run a tight ship’
The islander is now claiming compensation from the Scottish airline but says it will take four to six weeks to hear back.
Mr Kelly acknowledges staff are feeling the pinch but says that’s no excuse for bad service.
He says the airline must step up and improve service in the hope of winning back the customer’s trust.
Mr Kelly said: “Loganair has got nothing. As far as I can see, they operate on a wing and a prayer and as soon as something goes down, that has a knock-on effect.
“I would like to see them make a much simpler timetable and run a far more successful flight timetable you could depend on. If they started doing that well, they would gain people’s trust.
“They are losing people’s faith, but we have no option.”