widget/wp-exchange-widget-31widget/wp-exchange-widget-34
leaderboard/post-middle/0

Loganair bosses promise to improve service

John Moncrieff's stunning image used by the Facebook campaign of a Loganair/Flybe Saab 340 above Sumburgh Hotel, where campaigners met Loganair bosses on Thursday evening.
Jarlshof visitors are using Sumburgh Hotel facilities.

LOGANAIR have promised to introduce more compassionate discounts and to radically improve the reliability of their highlands and islands service after meeting with campaigners for almost five hours on Thursday night.

Campaign founder Scott Preston who set up a Facebook page complaining about Loganair’s airfares praised the company for sending three of its most senior managers to Shetland and listening earnestly to people’s complaints.

mobile/post-mobile/0

Early next month Preston will meet with Scottish transport and islands minister Derek Mackay to press the government about reducing the hidden airport costs that push airfares up.

Thursday’s meeting, which continued until after midnight after a 7.30pm start, was attended by Loganair’s chief executive Stewart Adams, engineering director Barry Stone and director of revenue and scheduling Roy Bogle.

Preston was joined by his wife Phoebe, as well as northern isles MP Alistair Carmichael and north isles councillor Steven Coutts, who is vice chair of the Shetland transport partnership ZetTrans.

mobile/post-mobile/1

Afterwards the campaigner said: “Overall it was a fantastic meeting and I am really happy the campaign has already achieved a legacy in the form of discounts for family funerals.”

Loganair has invited campaigners to help design a scheme for people attending funerals on the mainland that would avoid being abused.

It would match the 50 per cent concessions enjoyed by people visiting family members in hospital on the mainland on production of evidence of medical treatment.

Adams said: “Last night’s meeting was very valuable and I’m confident we can make further progress in the weeks and months ahead.

mobile/post-mobile/2

“We’ve given a commitment to maintain the momentum and look forward to working together with the group on an ongoing basis.”

The airline boss accepted that the reliability had “simply not been good enough in recent months”, even allowing for the islands’ extreme weather conditions.

He said the company had started tackling the issue several months ago with a major investment in its 130 strong engineering department.

Loganair has also invested heavily in a new spares facility at their Glasgow hub to avoid delays in waiting for parts to come from all over the UK and beyond.

“This should make a real difference to our reliability,” the chief executive insisted.

Capacity has been increased with the purchase of four 50 seater Saab 2000 aircraft with a fifth due next year, at the cost of several million pounds.

“Of course, these initiatives will take time to have their full impact, but our passengers can be assured that I have made every single one of the 570 people in Loganair fully aware of the critical importance of making reliability our top priority,” Adams said.

At the meeting the company also explained its pricing policies, which Preston described as “massively complex”.

mobile/post-mobile/3

The managers said that Loganair ran with a seven per cent profit margin, little more than half of that enjoyed by budget airlines like easyJet (13 per cent) and Ryanair (12 per cent), and made an average £8 profit per passenger.

More than £40 of every fare goes straight to the UK and Scottish government through taxes and airport duties, none of which is reduced by the 40 per cent Air Discount Scheme.

They also pointed out that Loganair’s fares had risen by two per cent in the last eight years, compared to an inflation rate of three per cent and a 3.5 per cent increase in airport charges from Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL).

“Operating any airline is highly complex, with a myriad of costs making up the fare paid by our passengers, and it’s enormously frustrating to hear some people refer to ‘massive price hikes’ so we wanted to be completely open,” Adams said.

Preston explained that he had initially set up the Facebook campaign on 6 June out of sheer frustration at the steep air fares.

After the meeting he said his frustration now revolved around his lack of understanding of the complex issues facing a regional airline like Loganair.

He said he was “over the moon” that almost 15,000 people were following the Facebook page, publishing their personal experiences with Loganair and that the airline had listened attentively and responded positively.

His next step is to meet with the Scottish transport minister on 7 July, when amongst other things he will be asking why state-owned airport operator HIAL charges £17 in airport duty, while Glasgow airport’s private owners only charge £10.

Categories
widget/wp-exchange-widget-33widget/pd_widget-8widget/pd_widget-9widget/pd_widget-10widget/pd_widget-2