It seem like most of the Scottish Airports had a fairly good year, passenger figures in general were up. But here in Skye we are still without the service that we should have and no real signs of any change on that front. The question has to be how to engender the drive to change that situation, what has to happen to make Ashaig a viable operational airfield serving the needs of the local people.
It’s been done at many other smaller rural airfields in Scotland, so I’m sure that it could be done in Skye. Enlisting the support of as many people as possible would be a good start, but ensuring that the service is available and the passenger figures and aircraft loadings are a kind of chicken and egg situation. I look at the Inverness to London City route, which is scheduled to cease operating in a couple of months. Potentially this was a great service, two flights a day from Inverness to London City. It made it possible to fly a return to London, take in a show and have a night in a hotel for not a great deal of money. The round trip on Flybe was from £125 if booked well in advance.
The general consensus was that the cancellation of the service on the 22nd of February was disappointing, but there have been rumours circulating in the plane spotter fraternity for at least six months. So I’m pretty sure that other people “in the know”, have been aware for much longer. I know this doesn’t really have a bearing on the reopening of Ashaig, but with the demise of a service like this the task of persuading some one to start a service becomes that much more difficult. The bottom line for this, is the bottom line for the service. Unless a service can be run at a profit – or a potential profit, the chances of the service getting started are zero.
I know that there has been talk of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) in respect of the service, but with the terminal building comprising a container and the total lack of facilities and safety. How can you expect an air operator to be happy with being associated with a service to Skye, these companies are more image conscious than that. As I’ve said before, this will have to start at a more basic level than “we want an air service for Skye”.