Flybe chief slams Edinburgh Airport's '˜appalling' service

Scotland's busiest airport has been accused of 'appalling' service by the airline providing its second-highest number of flights.

Flybe claimed Edinburgh was too focused on large planes operating long-haul routes at the expense of smaller aircraft serving UK flights. The criticism follows Loganair also saying it thought the airport was interested only in larger planes. Flybe has 645,000 passengers a year on 13 routes from Edinburgh. The airline flies four times a day to Heathrow and hopes to add a fifth flight if it can reach agreement on charges at Edinburgh.

Flybe chief executive Christine Ourmières-Widener told Scotland on Sunday: “I do not think the customer experience is where it should be.

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“We need to convince Edinburgh that we have value for them, feeding traffic to and from Scotland.

Flybe CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener at Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Jon Savage

“Airports like to optimise their assets with large planes rather than turboprops [smaller aircraft], but we provide feeder traffic. There is room for improvement in our relationship.

“There have been more delays in Edinburgh than we were expecting.”

By contrast, she said Flybe had a “better” and “more mature” relationship with Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.

Ourmières-Widener, a former UK general manager of Air France, said the pier service – where aircraft were positioned – at Edinburgh was “appalling”. She said: “They would be putting the big aircraft on parking stands [adjacent to the terminal] and small ones on remote positions – bussing customers.”

A Flybe spokeswoman added: “We are still in the process of deciding on what will be the evolution of our Heathrow network and have no confirmation so far because of the airport charges that are way too high.”

A travel industry source said: “Edinburgh Airport has its favourite airlines and looks after them.

“Flybe has often felt it is not valued and has had little engagement. It is not seen as big and important enough – and has been forgotten.”

In 2016, Loganair attacked increased aircraft charges at Edinburgh, saying an extra £200 a plane to land at peak times made it uneconomic for its smaller aircraft.

Flybe’s outburst comes amid strong passenger growth at Edinburgh.

The airport handled 1.5 million monthly passengers for the first time in July.

But there have been setbacks, with Etihad axing its Abu Dhabi route last month and rival Emirates, which launched Dubai flights in its wake, is to cut them from daily to five days a week for much of the winter.

An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said: “We work with more than 30 airlines and have never turned away an airline which has looked to set up a base at Scotland’s busiest airport. We have a strong relationship with all of our carriers and display parity and equity to all of them.”

“We focus on ... ensuring the maximum number of passengers benefit from the easiest-to-use facilities and shortest journey times, which tends to result in stand allocations based on size of aircraft.”