SERVICES from Inverness to Stornoway and Benbecula, and from Inverness to Kirkwall and Sumburgh all suspended
Work-to-rule industrial action at HIAL airports has forced Loganair to temporarily suspend its flights on routes between affected airports.
Unions representing employees at airports operated by Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) are presently engaged in discontinuous strike action and further action short of a strike, in the form of a work-to-rule.
The impact of strike action closing a particular airport on a particular date can readily be assessed, and there are several such dates coming up over the next two weeks. Customers booked on Loganair flights which are affected by these strike dates have already been contacted to offer alternative flights or a full refund should they choose not to travel.
The impact of the work-to-rule is far less predictable – if, for example, a single member of the HIAL team has time off work for sickness, a family emergency or suchlike, their shift cannot be covered through overtime or shift swaps. This leads to a position where shifts cannot be manned to the required minimum levels to enable flights to take place, causing cancellations and delays with either very limited advance notice or none at all.
Where Loganair flights are operating from HIAL airports to other destinations unaffected by the industrial action – such as Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen – the impact can generally be managed within operational flexibility available on the day. However, where flights are taking place between HIAL airports – such as from Inverness to Kirkwall and onwards to Sumburgh, or Inverness to Stornoway – then the cumulative effect of rolling restrictions at each airport in turn means that it becomes impossible to reasonably assure the provision of a service between them.
It is against this background that Loganair has taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend its services from Inverness to Stornoway and Benbecula, and from Inverness to Kirkwall and Sumburgh as a direct result of the work-to-rule in place at HIAL airports. The suspension will take effect from Friday 17 March – a day when Inverness is closed due to strike action in any event – and will initially run until 30 April. Customers booked on Loganair flights between these points will be contacted and offered the option of rebooking on alternative routes or a full refund.
A spokesperson for Loganair said: “We completely understand that this unprecedented step will be unwelcome news to communities who depend on the air services Loganair provides. It’s a step that we are taking with the utmost reluctance and only after careful consideration of all other options.
“We have sadly concluded that it’s simply not realistic to continue our efforts to provide services between HIAL airports when the action short of a strike is intended to disrupt and counter those efforts at every turn.
“The suspension provides advance – even if unwelcome – certainty around which our customers can adjust travel plans, as opposed to facing the risk of on-the-day flight cancellations or significant delays. We hope that the period of suspension – initially through to 30 April – will provide time and space for the parties to this dispute to meet and reach a resolution, enabling these long-running services to resume thereafter.”