CAMPAIGNERS for lower air fares in and out of Scotland’s islands have hailed Loganair’s agreement to introduce a new “compassionate travel policy” giving eligible customers access to a 50 per cent fare discount in times of family emergency.
The airline developed the new fare in partnership with the Islanders against Flybe & Loganair’s excessive prices Facebook campaign, which was established by Scott Preston and James Stewart and is followed by 15,200 people.
Loganair says the fare will offer reduced rate flights on all of its 19 routes and flexibility for customers who need to make bookings at short notice on compassionate grounds.
The airline has worked with the campaign volunteers to agree the terms, conditions and process of the policy, which Loganair believes is “the first of its kind for a UK commercial airline”.
It will be available to customers who need to travel throughout Scotland at short notice for the following reasons:
- The bereavement of an immediate family member;
- Cases of critical and unexpected illness involving an immediate family member;
- An immediate family member is receiving in-patient treatment
The compassionate fare will offer increased flexibility, with no charge when it is necessary to amend or even cancel bookings.
Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams said: “With the introduction of this policy we believe Loganair is now offering a comprehensive compassionate fare unique in the UK airline industry.
“More importantly, we are confident the reduced fares will be of great benefit to our customers in circumstances of bereavement and critical illness – the very times they need assistance most.
“The compassionate fare policy is the direct result of weeks of constructive collaboration between the airline, Scott Preston and the volunteers of the Facebook page campaign.
“It will ensure eligible customers receive a 50 per cent discount on flights and offers increased flexibility when bookings are required to be made during understandably difficult times.”
Given the sensitivities involved when a customer needs to make a compassionate fare reservation, a short application form has been produced which can be downloaded from Loganair’s website.
Reservations can be made via Loganair’s Air Discount Scheme call centre and through its booking partner, travel counsellor Michelle Wishart.
Preston said the campaigners were “absolutely delighted to have made such significant progress”.
“When the campaign launched, members told us that one issue they wanted to see resolved was a possibility for a bereavement fare. As a result of our work with Loganair we have not only met that demand but we have also expanded on it to include situations of emergency and critical care.
“This is a monumental change, the first enhancement for air travel to all the isles since 2006, and its introduction shows the power that local people have in changing their communities for the better.
“The scheme has been conceived, considered and implemented in just three months, and it is worth us considering why change through political channels takes so long when we have clearly demonstrated what can be achieved in such a short space of time.
“We’re very grateful to everyone who has supported the campaign and has helped our united voice become a strong, passionate force for change.
“Loganair deserve credit for being open to discussing this matter and many others, as well as for having the courage to remedy a problem for their customers.”
Preston said the campaign’s “remaining objective… is to address overall fare prices and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government, HIAL and Loganair in continuing to address the fares we have little choice but to pay.”
He added: “Today’s announcement builds on the momentum of the campaign and we are looking forward to announcing further improvements very soon.”
The new compassionate fare policy has won the backing of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD).
Its chief executive Alan Slater said: “The NAFD welcomes any initiative which assists bereaved families and so congratulates Loganair on the launch of the new compassionate fare.
“We will make sure that our members across Scotland are aware of the new fare and how they can ensure bereaved families in their care are able to benefit from it.”