SCOTTISH airline Loganair stepped in at the last minute to save the all-important Northern Isles “derby” football match between Orkney and Shetland.
The clash on Shetland hit problems when a mix up on travel arrangements meant that the all-amateur players of the away team, Orkney, were struggling to get back home in time for their work.
Loganair received a call late on Friday to say that Orkney’s travel plans for the most important weekend in the islands’ footballing calendars, the annual Milne Cup match, had gone awry.
Given it is the height of the holiday season, regular scheduled flights between Orkney and Shetland - which Loganair flies twice a day on weekdays and once daily at weekends- were too full to accommodate the 23-strong Orkney Amateur FA team and support staff.
But the airline’s Charter and Operations team sprung into action to put an extra aircraft into service and call a standby crew in to work to fly a special charter for the team from Sumburgh back to Kirkwall on Sunday afternoon – ensuring the Orkney footballers could all get back for their next shift at work.
Orkney Amateur FA secretary Bryn Loggenberg said: “We’re very grateful to Loganair for helping us out at a special rate, specially as it involved a logistical challenge for them.
“The inter-county clashes between Orkney and Shetland are of historical importance and fiercely competitive.”
Loganair’s managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “We were proud to help the strong sporting links between Orkney and Shetland, especially as we operate the scheduled service between the two groups of islands.
“When we got the call on Friday night, we knew it was the right thing for the communities that we serve to pull out all of the stops to arrange an extra flight.
“I’m grateful to our teams for the hard work to provide certainty for the Orkney team that they could get back home after the match and it therefore could go ahead as planned.”
Bragging rights in the game went to Shetland, who won 2-0. Some of the spare seats were filled by the Orkney hockey team, who won 2-1.