Loganair flights between Inverness to some island airports are to be suspended for several weeks as a result of strike action.
Union members at Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) will engage in work-to-rule strike action, with services from Inverness to Stornoway and Benbecula, and from Inverness to Kirkwall and Sumburgh set to be suspended for at least six weeks.
The flights will initially be suspended from Friday March 17 and until at least Sunday April 30.
The industrial action comes amid an ongoing pay dispute.
Union members including baggage handlers, ground crew and security, fire service and administration staff, recently went on strike after rejecting an improved pay deal last month.
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 airline added that the strike action was unpredictable and that it was “impossible to reasonably assure the provision of a service”.
A spokesperson for Loganair said that it had taken the decision to suspend the services with the “utmost reluctance and only after careful consideration of all other options.”
The airline added: “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 April 30 – 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.”
Prospect, Unite and the PCS union previously rejected a 5% pay offer which was made last year.
HIAL, a Scottish Government owned company, was criticised for not making an improved offer.
On Monday, HIAL managing director, Inglis Lyon, said that he and HIAL chair Lorna Jack had met to discuss ongoing strikes as well as Loganair’s announcement with the Scottish Government’s transport minister.
He said: “We are now developing a new business case for Transport Scotland which we will submit today and discuss with union representatives over the next few days.
“Having previously exhausted our options in terms of the existing parameters of public sector pay flexibility, we have been advised that there may now be further options which could help pursue an agreement which works for all parties involved.
“The Loganair announcement to temporarily suspend some flights would cause considerable disruption for our island communities, and we are acutely aware of the impact that could have on people who rely on what can often be described as lifeline services in those areas.
“Having met with union representatives this morning to provide an update on the position, and on the assumption that the business case is approved, we will be having further discussions soon.”
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