Loganair chief operating officer Phil Preston has said the price hike that has resulted in publishers bringing daily newspapers to the islands by passenger ferry instead of by air, would ‘only have added 20p per copy to that overall cost” of delivering newspapers to the islands.
This comes on the day that newspapers have begun to arrive on ferries after publishers declared price hikes announced by the air carrier made flying papers to the island too expensive.
Mr Preston said: “The fact is our proposed increase would only have added about 20p per copy to that overall cost. The air freight is only one part of the overall supply chain to the islands and we can only surmise that the balance of the overall cost is down to other factors.
“The dedicated freight charter service from Aberdeen to Stornoway and Benbecula, which we have been providing for Scottish Newspaper Society (SNS) since the previous supplier Highland Airways went out of business, had become unsustainable at the previous cost.”
He added: “We would like to emphasise that, because of our long-term commitment to the Western Isles, we have been operating the contract with SNS at a heavily discounted rate for the last three years. The hope was that we could find customers who were looking to move freight by air on the return leg of the aircraft’s journey to Aberdeen.
“Sadly, no such customer has been found, and the cost of the empty return leg to Aberdeen was the major factor in the decision to propose an increase in the cost of the contract.
“We had been working to find an alternative distribution channel by air to Stornoway and Benbecula from locations where the newspapers are produced, including carrying newspapers on our passenger aircraft, but SNS has now decided to use the CalMac ferry service instead. That decision was outwith our control.”