Glasgow-Uist flight costs soar - and no respite on horizon
Even residents registered with the Air Discount Scheme were faced with a minimum return fare of over £280 if obliged to book at short notice.
Fares have soared since Loganair cut the frequency of flights while calls for the route to be given PSO status – like Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown – which would attract Scottish Government subsidy are “unlikely” to meet with a positive response.
Loganair told the Gazette on Wednesday: “It is within the Comhairle’s remit to advance proposals as it sees fit, even where such proposals would clearly need new Government funding to deliver them. However, the conditions for a PSO imposition are unlikely to be met, even before the task of finding new money to pay for it could begin.”
Anger over both the fares and reliability of the service were vented this week on social media. Sports journalist Alex O’Henley posted: “Another day, another two hour plus delay on Loganair ‘s increasingly unreliable Glasgow to Benbecula service. It’s becoming a regular occurrence since they moved the early morning flight and changed over to new aircraft. Time feet were held to the fire on this one. Not nearly good enough!”.
The post gained widespread support and Iain Macmillan added: I don't care about delays so long as it gets there without major disruption. My issue is £300 for a one way flight to or from Glasgow - there have been cases that I know of where people have felt forced to do that route at short notice several times in a space of weeks.
“It's cruel on those that can't afford it and also those who can afford it but worked their fingers to the bone. It's not even like you get a premium service”.
Seumas Macletchie posted on Monday: “Yesterday we were ready to fly home and then told flight cancelled and we are here for two days now in Glasgow as planes fully booked. It’s getting worse and we are being treated with such an awful service. Maybe will get back tomorrow, who knows”.
Alex O’Henley responded: “Council and Uisdean Robertson are doing their best but Transport Scotland won’t agree to a PSO (public service obligation) as Loganair maintain it’s a commercial service - and having reduced flights they’re certainly busier!”.
A Loganair spokeswoman said: “Loganair is committed to providing regional connectivity on a year-round basis, supporting the communities in which we operate and ensuring lifeline links can remain open. We can only do this with fares that cover costs throughout the year.
“We strive to provide the lowest possible fare on each of our services. However, the nature of the routes we operate means that we have similar costs to other carriers but with less capacity, increased fuel and servicing costs in remote communities, more weather disruption, and a commitment to a year-round service that carries significant costs through winter months”.