Councillor Donald Crichton has called on Eastern Airways to extend its Stornoway to Aberdeen route to accommodate the increasing number of oil industry workers from the Western Isles.
In a letter to the Eastern Airways Managing Director Richard Lake, Mr Crichton said the current service provided an important link for an increasing number of people working in the offshore industry from the Western Isles but that for too long the timetable was inadequate and was forcing people to divert to Inverness leaving them to have an unnecessary overnight stay on the way to Aberdeen or returning.
Mr Crichton said: “ The offshore industry’s contribution to the economy of the Western Isles cannot be underestimated. It is estimated that it contributes four to seven million pounds to the local economy annually.
Adjusting the timetable and adding one extra flight to the service so that there are two flights a day between Stornoway and Aberdeen, one early morning, the other late evening, Monday to Friday would make a real difference. This would be of great benefit to many of my constituents working in the oil industry to help them make connections to get offshore and to get home. For too long the timetable has been inadequate and is forcing people to divert through Inverness and leaving them to have an unnecessary overnight stay.”
The Loch a Tuath Councillor continued: “ I know that representations have been made to you in the past regarding this issue and that they have not been addressed. The current flight timetable is simply not practical to most islanders commuting between Stornoway and Aberdeen. Your company has occupied the Stornoway to Aberdeen route for over six years now and has done nothing to develop it. That is disappointing given the potential benefits for your company and customers from the Western Isles.”
Mr Crichton concluded: “ I would be grateful if you would give careful consideration to extending the route and explore alternatives to improve the flight timetable. I would be more than happy to facilitate a discussion between you and representatives from the community who are frequent users of the service to and from their work in the North Sea. I think this would be useful and give you a clear indication of the strength of feeling regarding this issue and the support for the service.”