Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams said: “We were pleased to get the chance to meet with Scott Preston and Alistair Carmichael MP in Sumburgh last night to give them a firm assurance that we’ve been listening very carefully to the concerns raised by the Facebook campaign.
“We were determined to be completely open about those issues, including pricing, punctuality and also compassionate fares, and after five hours of very detailed discussion - until midnight last night - we’re confident that was achieved.
“We’ve given a commitment that we want to extend the current concessionary fare scheme for hospital visitors to include visits for family funerals and have asked the group for its input in helping to design how this would work in practice. This should make a real difference to our passengers at times when they need our help and understanding.
“On reliability, we were very up-front - it’s simply not been good enough in recent months, even allowing for the unique challenges of operating in an island environment, with all the weather problems that brings.
“That’s why we started a major investment programme in our engineering division several months ago, including the appointment of a new, highly-experienced director of engineering and are also actively recruiting to expand our current 130-strong team of technicians and engineers.
“We’ve also invested heavily in a new spares facility at our Glasgow hub, as many of our delays have been caused by having to wait for parts to be shipped from elsewhere in the UK and even from the continent. This should make a real difference to our reliability.
“And we’ve also spent several million pounds expanding our fleet, adding four larger aircraft, the 50-seater Saab 2000, with another one on the way next year, to increase capacity and flexibility on our network.
“Of course, these initiatives will take time to have their full impact, but our passengers can be assured that I have made every single one of the 570 people in Loganair fully aware of the critical importance of making reliability our top priority.
“Crucially, we also gave details on our pricing, fare structure and financial performance to help dispel some of the misconceptions which have arisen.
“Our financial model is completely different to the massive, low-cost international carriers and, at 7%, our profit margin is far lower than easyJet (13%) and Ryanair (12%).
“Operating any airline is highly complex, with a myriad of costs making up the fare paid by our passengers, and it’s enormously frustrating to hear some people refer to ‘massive price hikes’ so we wanted to be completely open. Our fares, net of taxes, have increased by an average of 2% over the past eight years, compared to an average increase in RPI of 3%.
“In fact, people may be surprised to learn that the average profit we make on our scheduled routes is just £8 per passenger.
“Last night’s meeting was very valuable and I’m confident we can make further progress in the weeks and months ahead. We’ve given a commitment to maintain the momentum and look forward to working together with the group on an ongoing basis.”