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Struggle to accommodate fog bound flyers

The view from Fair Isle weatherman Dave Wheeler's house on Thursday afternoon. Photo Dave Wheeler

SCOTTISH airline Loganair has been struggling to accommodate passengers stranded by the unique foggy conditions enveloping Shetland this week.

On Wednesday night the airline took hours to find beds for all 160 passengers stuck in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Kirkwall after flights were stood down or diverted.

On Thursday the first flights in and out of Sumburgh airport were cancelled and the airport suffered extensive delays throughout the day, though movements continued, if sporadically.

At Scatsta oil airport 11 days of disruption have left workers stuck on oil and gas platforms in the North Sea and west of Shetland as helicopter flights have been more or less at a standstill.

Inter island flights to Foula, Fair Isle and Skerries have also suffered, with Fair Isle having difficulty finding enough places to stay for visitors unable to leave the isle by air. There have been no flights at all this week.

Loganair chief operating officer Phil Preston

Loganair chief operating officer Phil Preston said they had to taxi some passengers from Inverness as far as the Black Isle on Wednesday night due to the shortage of available beds.

On Monday 33 passengers due to fly from Aberdeen on a Saab 340 were bussed to Dundee, only to find the Dornier 328 aircraft on stand-by only had room for 31 people.

As a result the two remaining passengers had to be returned to Aberdeen the following day to catch the ferry to Shetland.

However even the Dundee passengers ended up on the ferry after their flight had to be diverted to Kirkwall.

Preston said finding accommodation at short notice during the holiday season with the added pressure of the Golf Open Championship at Muirfield was extremely difficult.

He apologised for the inconvenience passengers experienced, adding: “Difficult weather conditions create significant disruptions to our services, but first and foremost, passenger safety is always of primary importance to Loganair.

“Our operations team work extremely hard to mitigate the impact weather disruption has on our services.”

Ferry passengers have witnessed how isolated Shetland is from the rest of the country where high temperatures are leading to health warnings.

Shetland’s fog ends just south of Fair Isle, with even Orkney basking in sunshine and passengers arriving in Aberdeen complaining about the heat.

Fair Isle weatherman Dave Wheeler said the high pressure in Britain was generating fog and mist west and north of the UK that was affecting Shetland.

He suggested the fog will clear over the weekend, only for a Scandinavian high to bring it back again next week.

“The high we have been having is due to migrate north east across Scotland and the northern isles over the weekend,” Wheeler said.

“We might lose the fog for a while, but then get a different kind of fog back again for next week when it looks like we could get the traditional east coast haa.”

Bristows base manager at Scatsta airport Colin Jones said with the weather improving from Friday he expected the company to be working throughout the weekend to clear the huge backlog of offshore oil workers.

“It’s been fog for nearly a fortnight and though we have had sporadic operations we have not completed many successful days flying.”