Virus lockdown hits island flights and airports

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Vital airports and flights from Oban to the islands are among the casualties of the coronavirus lockdown.

All general aviation traffic from Oban Airport and airports at Coll and Colonsay have been suspended to avoid any risk of spreading COVID-19.

Scheduled flights provided by Hebridean Air Services Ltd are now restricted to only island residents and essential service providers deemed ‘vital for island life’. These include emergency services and the military.

The North Connel terminal near Oban has been closed to the general public with revised operational hours also in force.

Scheduled flights out of Oban Airport usually fly to the islands of Coll, Tiree, Colonsay and Islay under an agreement with Argyll and Bute Council.

Online bookings for travel have also been suspended and
passengers are being contacted prior to their flight to follow official guidance. Passengers are being encouraged to pay ‘remotely’ in advance to reduce their time in communal areas at airports.

Regular passengers are being informed that once they have checked-in, they have the option to wait in their vehicles until boarding time also.

A statement from the Oban & The Isles Airports said: ‘We understand that these restrictions may be disappointing for some of you.

‘We hope that you can appreciate our actions are necessary in order to protect these lifeline services for those they are primarily to serve.’

Meanwhile Loganair has announced further reductions in its flight schedules across Scotland.

It said it expected to ground half of its 44-strong air fleet soon.

A skeleton schedule of essential air services will to continue to operate within Scotland with two routes supporting critical workers in the offshore industry at Aberdeen remaining in place, it added.

Services will be maintained on a limited timetable with a minimum of six weekly flights, leaving daily except Saturday.

Flights affected include Glasgow-Benbecula; Glasgow-Campbeltown; Glasgow-Islay and Glasgow-Tiree, said Loganair.

Its call centre is now operating at reduced capacity due to social distancing requirements to safeguard staff, the company said.

‘We would therefore ask that customers do not call us unless to discuss immediate travel needs in the next 72 hours. Please either manage your booking through the Loganair website or email’