Patients trying to get back to Orkney and Shetland after Aberdeen hospital appointments were left stranded as a result of air traffic controllers’ industrial action, MSPs heard yesterday.
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur raised their plight at First Minister’s Questions as he called on Nicola Sturgeon and Transport Secretary Michael Matheson to step-in and help resolve the long-running dispute.
Ms Sturgeon urged Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) and Prospect Union to come to an agreement, claiming she understood the frustration caused by the disruption.
Mr McArthur said: “This week has seen more passengers on flights to Orkney and Shetland left stranded, including many island patients returning from hospital appointments in Aberdeen.
“Does the First Minister understand the anger and frustration felt by those who are left paying the price for the failure by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd and the unions to resolve the dispute?”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “My message to both HIAL and the unions is that they should get round the table and find a resolution.
“The transport secretary and the government will do everything that they can to bring that about but, ultimately, it is for the employer and the trade unions to find resolution, and I hope that they will do so quickly.”
Later Mr McArthur said: “I first raised concerns about the impact of this dispute on our lifeline air services with the First Minister in April.
“Five months on and still there is no sign of a resolution. This cannot be allowed to go on.”