AN ISLAND airport will be overwhelmed by extra passengers when rival airlines go head-to-head next week, it has been claimed, as calls emerge for ministers to “urgently intervene”.

Rival planes from Flybe and Loganair will be landing and taking off within minutes of each other putting pressure on airport services and baggage handling as the battle for passengers intensifies on the Stornoway to Glasgow route.

With islanders snapping up cheap flights thanks to an early air fares war between the two companies, there are concerns an increased number of people checking-in at the same time may mean longer security queues and delay take-off.

Loganair will run four flights daily while Flybe has a joint venture with Eastern Airways to lay on three services on top of the other planes operating from the government owned airport.

Uisdean Robertson, chairman of Western Isles Council transport committee, said: “While the council continues to cautiously welcome the additional services being provided by the airlines, we have separately expressed concerns regarding the capacity of Stornoway Airport to accommodate the additional aircraft and flights.

“The provision of additional flights and the timetables proposed will give rise to increased air traffic during peak periods and concerns have been expressed regarding the capacity of air traffic management arrangements, of aircraft parking arrangements adjacent to the terminal – currently four spaces – and of the equipment, infrastructure and staffing available for unloading and loading baggage from the increased number of aircraft at certain times of the day.”

Mr Robertson added: “It is understood that, with less than three weeks to go before the additional services being introduced, agreement has yet to be reached between Flybe, Loganair and Highland and Island Airports (HIAL) on these and other salient matters.”

The council has raised their concerns with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf – who has responsibilities for government owned HIAL which operates airports in the north “to ask that he intervene in these matters as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Robertson seeks to “ensure that all potential possible benefits from the introduction of the additional services are realised and that there is no possibility that the success of the proposed changes is in any way undermined by an inability or failing of the airlines or HIAL to accommodate these services to the detriment of those wishing to travel to, from and within the Outer Hebrides.”

A HIAL spokesperson said: “The HIAL team are in constant contact with both Loganair and Eastern Airways in terms of the new services due to be introduced next month.

“Our number one priority, as always, is to ensure the people of the Highlands and Islands are provided with a safe, reliable service that delivers connectivity and sustainability to their communities.

“The recent agreement between Loganair and Flybe in terms of ground handling is to be welcomed and we are content that the infrastructure and staff of Stornoway airport will facilitate a successful operation for both airlines.”

Meanwhile, islanders and other Loganair passengers in the Highlands will now be able to book through flights from their local airport onto services on British Airways’ global network at Heathrow, Gatwick and City Airports serving 200 destinations.

The two airlines have struck an agreement, known as a codeshare, which will simplify the booking process for passengers using the carriers.

Loganair customers will be able to connect onto British Airways domestic services at Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, flying on a “through ticket”, with the facility to check in hold baggage at their departure airport straight through to their destination.

The new Loganair services to and from Manchester will also be included in the codeshare parthership, enabling customers to take advantage of new connections from points including Glasgow, Inverness and Norwich onto the growing family of British Airways services at the north-west hub.

Under the new agreement, British Airways is operating a codeshare with Loganair for the first time as an independent airline, although the two companies have had a business relationship that has stretched over a quarter of a century.    The airlines operated as franchise partners between 1994 and 2008 and have operated a code share agreement under the Loganair/Flybe franchise.. 

Rishi Kapoor, British Airways’ Head of Alliances, said “We are delighted to be strengthening our business relationship with Loganair with an agreement that will benefit the customers of both airlines.

 “We believe the new codeshare agreement will bring enormous benefits to the Highlands and Islands, significantly boosting the region’s economy by extending the global reach of the area’s businesses and communities through British Airways’ world-wide network with flights serving more than 200 destinations from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports.

 “Additionally, it will boost the region’s inbound tourism sector by making it even easier for visitors from all over the world to travel to some of the most remote and beautiful parts of Scotland”.

Loganair’s Managing Director Jonathan Hinkles said: “Today’s announcement marks a new and welcome development in the long-standing partnership between British Airways and Scotland’s airline, Loganair.