Alyn Smith, SNP Member of the European Parliament, today challenged the Commission to look at the discriminatory pricing schemes of the airlines that connect the Scottish Islands to the rest of Scotland.
Recently a return flight between Shetland and Orkney which is just 85 miles was costed at more than £154.
“The current fares are outrageously high. These routes are an essential transport link for islanders which are currently priced at a level that prevents them travelling when necessary.
“Despite the existing Air Discount Scheme, which provides a 40 per cent discount for registered Highland and Island residents, prices remain too high. Travel is not an option for residents, it is a necessity and they have to be able to do so at a reasonable cost.
"Nobody should have to pay through the nose to see their granny at Christmas. Flybe/Loganair provides a valuable service but has a monopoly on the market. I've heard too many stories about half-empty flights because people paying out of their own pocket simply can't afford the exorbitant sums involved.
“The EU has taken action to control air fares under different circumstances and I have now written to the Commission asking them to see what can be done to prevent operators from charging these fees.”
The text of Alyn's Parliamentary Question to the European Commission is as follows.
"Recently a return flight between Shetland and Orkney which is just 85 miles was costed at more than £154. This is an essential transport link for islanders to the mainland but one which is priced at a level that prevents many islanders travelling when necessary. It is also illustrative of the wider costs of flying in the Highlands of Scotland.
What evidence does the Commission have of flight price discrimination to remote areas?
The Scottish Government’s Air Discount Scheme, which provides a 40 per cent discount for registered Highland and Island residents, has been successful in mitigating some of these costs but the levels being charged are still high in comparison to other routes within the EU. In other situations the EU has taken action to control air fares which were deemed unfair on passengers.
Is the Commission considering regulation to prevent this situation occurring in the future?"