Scots air link restored - let’s use it, urges Bell

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Isle of Man Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Isle of Man Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK

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Chief Minister Allan Bell has welcomed the return of direct air links between the island and Scotland - but said it was now down to the public to ensure the route remains viable.

The new Citywing service to and from Glasgow airport launches at the end of March 2014 and will operate nine return flights a week.

The move follows an agreement between the Chief Minister and the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond MSP – announced when Mr Salmond visited the island in July this year – that their two governments would work together to restore the air link lost when Flybe partner Loganair pulled its direct flights to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Mr Bell said: ‘The return of direct flights between the Isle of Man and Scotland is good news for both countries and an example of what can be achieved when we act in partnership with our neighbours.

‘Alex Salmond’s visit to the island this summer provided an opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest and one of the concerns raised was the loss of our air services to Glasgow and Edinburgh. We agreed that our two governments would work together to see if the air link to Scotland could be reconnected, and I am delighted that this is now happening. It is particularly pleasing the new service will be in place in time for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.’

But he added: ‘The ball is now very much in the court of the travelling public. It’s very much a “use it or lose it” situation. We can’t guarantee its future.’

Mr Bell confirmed marketing support had been offered by both the Manx and Scottish governments to help establish the new service.

Mr Salmond said: ‘I’m pleased to say the service will be back up and running well before the summer as it was simply too important a connection to lose.’

Citywing managing director David Buck said it was predicted 1,000 passengers a month would use the new route. He said it was aimed at both business and leisure passengers with double daily flights on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and single flights on Friday, Sunday and Monday. Saturday flights could be introduced at a later point depending on demand.

He said: ‘It’s been a long while in the planning. We were looking at it prior to Mr Salmond’s visit but that was the catalyst.’

The good news on Scottish flights follows confirmation from British Airways will bring back three return flights a day on the London City route from end of March next year.’

Mr Bell said discussions are on-going with Flybe over the future of its remaining island routes, including the patient transfer service. He said: ‘We are awaiting to hear how they intend to honour that. We know there will be a Liverpool route. There are other airlines waiting in the wings.’

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