Highlands and Islands LMSP, and Shadow Transport and Islands Minister, David Stewart MSP, was involved in an impromptu ‘mini surgery’ at Benbecula Airport last Thursday (2 July) as he was one of a number of passengers delayed at the airport.
Mr Stewart had been on visits in Benbecula and the Uists and was scheduled to travel back to Inverness on the 16.05 flight from Benbecula to Inverness, via Stornoway. However this flight and a flight to Glasgow were delayed for some time, during which some fellow passengers spoke to Mr Stewart about their disquiet.
Mr Stewart said: “The flight to Glasgow had been delayed because the first flight up in the morning hadn’t flown apparently due to weather/technical issues. However it appears that the flight to Stornoway and Inverness was held up as Benbecula passengers on the incoming flight from Inverness were asked to disembark at Stornoway as the plane was required on another route.
“I had a really helpful meeting earlier in the day with the first class Air Traffic Control team at Benbecula and the staff on hand at the airport dealt with the situation in a professional and helpful manner. They imparted as much information as they had to waiting passengers but it wasn’t always clear that they themselves were being kept fully updated on what was happening with the delayed flights.
Mr Stewart continued: “The cost of island flights has been well documented over recent weeks and other passengers were complaining to me that flights are often delayed, causing problems with further travel connections. This is not good enough. Island communities need an assurance that essential lifeline services will run as scheduled and for the airline to ask people to disembark and wait for an unspecified period while the plane is re-routed elsewhere is not acceptable. I am writing to Loganair and to the Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, about this.”