Withdrawal of Edinburgh connection will have 'significant impact', says Gail Ross
NORTH MSP Gail Ross has spoken of her dismay at the imminent withdrawal of Loganair's flights between Wick and Edinburgh, saying it will have "a significant impact" on the social and economic future of the area.
She said she was urging Scotland's transport secretary Michael Matheson to support a public service obligation (PSO) on the route, as proposed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce.
Loganair said today the final Wick/Edinburgh service will operate on March 27.
Mrs Ross, the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said: “I’m very disappointed to learn of Loganair’s decision to remove its route between Wick and Edinburgh. There is little doubt that this will have a significant impact on the social and economic future of Caithness and north Sutherland.
"At a time when there are so many projects supporting our community the air route is more important than ever to facilitate effective working throughout the country.
“I have spoken with the cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity and have urged him to support the route becoming a PSO route.
"The Scottish Government has today committed to giving the PSO proposal from the Caithness Chamber of Commerce serious consideration, which I am thankful for.
"However, it is important that we now all come together as a community to ensure the future of sustainable and effective connectivity for Caithness and north Sutherland.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that the Edinburgh/Wick route has failed.
“This is a hugely challenging time for the aviation industry which means unprofitable routes with falling passenger numbers are being cancelled, despite the benefits to this route provided by the Air Discount Scheme and the APD [Air Passenger Duty] exemption.
“The Highlands have benefited significantly from improved connectivity from Inverness Airport but we understand the local desire to see direct services from Wick continue. We are considering carefully a business case from Caithness Chamber of Commerce and will respond to that soon.”
Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone said: "This is seriously worrying news. The point is that economic growth in the far north, i.e. establishing high-quality employment opportunities as Dounreay decommissions, depends on top-quality transport links with Wick and the far north.
"I am looking for these links to be improved, not eroded.
"The Scottish Government is responsible for transport in Scotland and I believe that they must address this move by Loganair as a matter of extreme urgency.
"For years I have been saying that flights in and out of Caithness should be a public service obligation and I shall now be writing to Nicola Sturgeon asking her and the Scottish Government to step in."