13th March 2020
Regular, reliable regional aviation links are critical to our region’s continued economic success. This is a significant market failure which will have serious short, medium and long-term economic impacts. We need and expect urgent action from Scottish Government to address these.
While there are particular external pressures on the regional aviation market at the current time, this is a situation which could and should have already been addressed. We provided the Scottish Government with a contingency planning report in June of last year. Had that report prompted an active response, we would be in a much stronger position to deal with the issues we are now facing. Instead, a major operator from Wick John O’Groats Airport has pulled out of a route providing vital services to communities across Caithness, and we do not have a plan or commitment from Government to mitigate the impact.
As a Chamber, we are working closely with others and have completed a business case for improved series from Wick John O’Groats for consideration by Transport Scotland. We have been proactive and planned for this type of scenario. We need government to step up and match our work.
Our region succeeds when everyone who has a stake in its success works together. We are particularly disappointed that Loganair have made this decision at a time when they are expanding elsewhere. We have been developing our plans to protect and expand services alongside others. Loganair were aware of these and we are also disappointed that they have chosen to make this announcement now, when we have a completed business case and are preparing to speak directly to the Scottish Government about support for future service provision.
Working with partners, we will be working hard in the coming days and weeks to get a commitment from Scottish Government to support new services and protect regional aviation links serving our part of the country. When we have seen similar situations in other parts of Scotland, government has provided support. Caithness and North Sutherland deserves the same.