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More extra flights as ferries are cancelled

The Bahamas registered tanker Solway Fisher leaving Lerwick harbour on Friday afternoon - Photo: Mark Berry

LOGANAIR has now added two further services between Sumburgh and Aberdeen to ease some of the travel disruptions created by NorthLink’s ferry cancellations.

The airline announced at Friday lunchtime that one additional service had been laid on for the afternoon (leaving Aberdeen at 3.30pm and Sumburgh at 5pm), while there will also be an early morning service on Saturday (leaving Aberdeen at 6.40am and at 8.10am).

These new extra flights are in addition to the ones announced earlier. In total Loganair will now be providing four additional services over the next 24 hours.

A spokesman said that flights could be booked online at www.flybe.com or www.flybe.com/ads as appropriate. Bookings can also be made by calling 0871 700 2000.

The announcement follows NorthLink’s decision to cancel the sailings of their passenger vessels Hrossey and Hjaltland for a second night due to adverse weather conditions.

Friday’s freight service from Lerwick to Aberdeen has also been cancelled, and the cargo boat Hellier is currently berthed in Kirkwall Bay.

Saturday’s sailings are currently under review, with the southbound service from Lerwick to Aberdeen likely to be cancelled. An update is expected at 10am on Saturday morning.

The company’s managing director Stuart Garrett said that according to current weather forecasts storms were likely to halt sailings until Sunday.

He said Serco NorthLink has been working to contact all customers with bookings between now and Christmas.

“Passenger wishing to travel to and from Orkney are advised to travel between Scrabster and Stromness.  Serco NorthLink Ferries has arranged addition bus services from Aberdeen to Scrabster on Sunday 23 December.

“We understand this is hugely disappointing for customers hoping to travel for the festive season. However our priority is the safety of our passengers and crew and we will not sail unless it is safe to do so.”

These disruptions will mean further inconvenience for people trying to get home in time for Christmas. It will also create additional problems for retailers desperate to get fresh supplies to fill the shelves.

A spokesman for the Co-op supermarket in Lerwick said they were hopeful to get a delivery on Monday, Christmas Eve.

“Like other retailers, we are facing inevitable disruption as a result of interruptions to ferry services to Shetland. Demand for fresh produce has been high, but, weather permitting, we are expecting a delivery on Monday,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Shetland Emergency Planning Forum met on Friday morning to discuss the implications of several days of severe weather.

Forum chairman, acting council chief executive Neil Grant said: “This is not an emergency situation – but obviously the combination of poor weather and pressures due to the festive season means there is likely to be a significant amount of inconvenience and disruption over the next few days. 

“There may be shortages of some specific items in the shops, but we are happy that there are sufficient provisions available across the wider retail network. 

“However, can I take this opportunity to ask folk to check on any vulnerable neighbours over the next few days to make sure they’re adequately provided for.”

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