The airline serving the Western Isles has today (Tuesday 12 May) issued an uncharacteristically emotional call for patience, tolerance and fair play from their customers.
Loganair continues to operate lifeline services to Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra, but with much of their fleet grounded and an uncertain timetable for future public travel, the pressure on their staff is, they seem to say, becoming unreasonable.
Today’s statement comes in the form of an open letter to customers, which reads:
“Firstly, our heart goes out to those who have very sadly lost loved ones, we know behind the numbers on the news they’re real people and families facing terrible times. Unfortunately, some of our own colleagues know this all too well.
“Over the last few weeks all our lives have changed in a manner that is unprecedented in peacetime, and as with most major global events, aviation has been hit hard.
“For almost 60 years though we have successfully navigated our way through this turbulence and today are proud to say we remain the longest established UK airline in existence and despite the difficulties - we are confident in our future.
“Having said that, this invisible threat really is unprecedented, it has led to a suppression of travel on a scale never seen in our lifetimes, operating at all is a logistical nightmare.
“Many of the airports we serve have seen such a down-turn in terminal traffic, they’ve either been forced to temporarily close or limit their opening hours.
“What particularly makes planning our operation so much more difficult than during other times of crisis is the continually changing government rules on movement, with either no fixed timescales or ever-changing ones. Combine that with our dependency on airport’s to be open when we wish to fly and it becomes tricky to plan for a fleet of 45 aircraft and over 500 crew.
“At the time of writing [11th May] there is still no firm end date in sight for when travel will become fully unrestricted. Differing government advice is adding to the complexity of us providing a schedule that allows for essential travel.
“However, we are continually working to offer the most comprehensive flying programme as soon as it is needed and plan to put on sale our amended schedule for June this week.
“Unlike some other airlines in the UK, as a regional carrier, we know we play a more significant role in bringing friends and family back together and facilitating business as restrictions ease. Therefore, we are doing everything we can to ensure once you’re ready, we’re ready.
“Over the next few days, we’ll also be announcing new safety measures so that whilst we are living with Covid-19 after lockdown, the risk to our customers and crew when travelling is minimised as far as it can be.
“To help us be ready through, unlike the challenges we’ve faced in the past, this time we need your help.
“It is an incredibly stressful time for customer services teams around the country, many of whom are continuing to go to work to help others. We pride ourselves on the high standards our team delivers but under the current circumstances, we simply cannot help everyone as quickly as usual.
“This time we kindly ask customers to adjust expectations where possible and consider the situation we all find ourselves in. To help us help you, and to help our team, we’d be really grateful if you could be mindful of the following:
“Please be respectful to our staff – this is a stressful time for them too and abuse is demoralising, unnecessary and unhelpful.
“Please be patient - do not contact us multiple times regarding the same query – if you are entitled to a refund and have claimed one via the email you've received, it will be processed as soon as possible. We will not acknowledge your claim but rest assured it is being processed. Refunds will always be processed in the order they are received.
“If you opt to hold your booking – once you’ve completed the online form on our website, it is automatically held and you will not receive confirmation from us.
“Schedule changes may be frequent – we do not intend to change travel plans often, but we have to follow the government advice and adapt accordingly. Please bear with us.
“Please do not call us where possible – wait times are long and all options for our customers can be self-administered via our website. If your call relates to a refund please be aware they will always be processed in the order they are received.
“Where possible, move your booking or hold it for future travel - If you’re entitled to a refund, these could take in excess of 60 days to process, perhaps longer. Refunds are a manual process and the more refunds requested, the longer they take to process.
“Please do not use social media to request refunds or hold-bookings – this should be done via our online forms or the email you've received and we will not process or respond to those requested via social media.
“Please do not use social media for complaints – for you to get a resolution, you should follow our standard complaints procedure. Complaints, spam or abuse on social media will be ignored or removed.
“If you’re worried about a flight in the future – if we haven’t emailed you to tell you your flight is cancelled, it is currently scheduled as planned. You can always check your flight status via manage my booking on our website.
“Refunds – our policy regarding refunds is very clear on the Covid-19 section of our homepage. Emails, social media posts and letters challenging the policy will not be answered.
“Most of your frequently asked questions can be answered at https://www.loganair.co.uk/travel-help/covid-19/ and all options Loganair provides to customers who have existing bookings can be self-administered via our website
“We’d like to thank all our customers for their patience and we look forward to getting the country moving again, soon. In the meantime, stay safe and we’ll continue to play our part in supporting the government, the NHS, industry and your community.
From all at Loganair.