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Transport / Christmas travel ‘bottleneck’ fears played down

Photo: Ronnie Robertson

CONCERNS over travel “bottlenecks” to and from Shetland at Christmas appear to have been allayed by transport operators.

People will be allowed to travel freely between 23 and 27 December and Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael previously warned against the impact this could have on transport as people return home to Shetland.

A meeting of the Shetland external transport forum heard on Wednesday, however, that no issues are expected regarding capacity on flights and ferries to the isles.

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said there are still plenty of seats available on a number of flights over the festive period.

He suggested he would be “surprised” if flights got to the point of being sold out.

The airline has also introduced extra flights to the schedule connecting Sumburgh and Glasgow during the festive period.

Hinkles added that projected bookings for December are 66 per cent down compared to the same period last year.

Transport Scotland officials told the meeting that there are no issues anticipated regarding capacity on NorthLink’s ferries over the festive period.

Serco NorthLink managing director Stuart Garrett also told the meeting that there has been “no impact” as a consequence of the Hjaltland and Hrossey’s capacity nearly halving from 600 to 335 to enable physical distancing.