Loganair to axe Wick to Edinburgh service
Wick John O’Groats Airport has been dealt a devastating blow with the news that Loganair is to axe the service linking Caithness with Edinburgh.
The airline said today the decision had been made "reluctantly" and pointed to a steep decline in passenger numbers – with a further drop in bookings caused by coronavirus being a decisive factor.
The service will finish at the end of this month, with two staff being offered redeployment or redundancy.
The airline said the growth in non-stop services from Inverness Airport over the past couple of years had led to a "marked deterioration" in the number of customers using the Wick/Edinburgh route for onward connections to other parts of the UK and overseas.
Loganair revealed that overall passenger numbers on the route fell from 11,357 in 2016 to 7632 last year – a decline of 33 per cent.
As a result, it said, the viability of the route was under serious pressure even before a drop in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak, which had seen bookings on the route fall by a further 17 per cent against the same time last year.
Loganair said a combination of these factors had rendered the route unsustainable "and in the absence of a reasonable prospect of the situation improving the sad decision to close it has now been taken".
This will result in closure of Loganair’s ground handling and customer service operation at Wick, where the two staff members will be offered redeployment to alternative locations within Loganair or redundancy.
Loganair has advised airport operator Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd and the Scottish Government of its decision, and the final service will operate on Friday, March 27.
Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “It’s hugely disappointing that from the end of this month we will no longer fly from Wick.
"Loganair has been serving Wick since 1976, but there has been a steady decline in passenger numbers mirroring the simultaneous growth of non-stop flights from Inverness, and the further drop in demand as a result of coronavirus has dealt the final blow.
“I’d like to thank our loyal customers and pay tribute to our two long-serving staff members at Wick for their dedication over many years, and just wish that it were possible to reward their hard work with a better outcome than this.”
Customers booked on flights to and from Wick after March 27 will be offered alternatives of flights to and from Inverness, a refund or other re-routing options as may be available.
Mr Hinkles added: “Loganair is not ruling out the possibility of a return to Wick in future, and work has been ongoing between stakeholders for some time to identify options for a public service obligation [PSO] order to be imposed on the route.
“Loganair has participated in a number of the reviews leading to proposals being tabled by local stakeholders to the Scottish Government recently. Should this result in the creation of a PSO, we would consider resuming services at Wick under that new structure.”