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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Sabbath flights spark island anger
Stornoway airport
Many on the isle of Lewis are strict Sabbatarians
The introduction of Sunday flights to the Western Isles has brought opposition from strict observers of the Sabbath.

The airline Loganair is to provide a new Sunday service to Stornoway on Lewis, where public transport services and businesses do not operate on the "Lord's Day".

The airline said the move was in response to local demand for weekend services to the mainland.

However, some islanders fear that other transport providers and businesses could follow suit, threatening the traditional way of life on the Hebridean island.


This island is the only place in the UK where the Sabbath has been kept - I'm afraid it's the last bastion.

Retired Free Presbyterian Church minister Angus Smith
Loganair will introduce flights linking Stornoway with Edinburgh and Inverness from the end of October.

The ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne, which has faced fierce opposition to any such move in the past, is also likely to take a fresh look at its position in light of the decision.

Iain MacDonald, Scottish secretary of the Lord's Day Observance Society, said: "It is a commercial enterprise and as far I am concerned that is a breach of God's Law.

"The folk in Lewis have not had transport on the Lord's Day and they have managed perfectly well."

Financial reasons

Retired Free Presbyterian Church minister Angus Smith from Stornoway, who took part in a protest against Sunday ferry sailings to Skye in 1965, said the move was the "thin end of a wedge".

He said: "I have never seen any firm beginning to encroach upon the Lord's day who did not say it was doing it for the sake of public demand.

"I have never seen a company that did not do it for financial reasons.

"This island is the only place in the UK where the Sabbath has been kept - I'm afraid it's the last bastion.

"When it comes to the Lord's day they're willing to trample on it."

Sunday ferry protest
Attempts to introduce a Sunday ferry were challenged

Loganair's managing director Scott Grier said the company had been considering the proposal for some time.

He said there was a growing demand from customers wanting to travel to and from Lewis at the weekend.

The flight will operate in the afternoon - avoiding church times and Loganair hope not to intrude on the Lewis way of life, he said.

A single Saab 340 34-seater plane will leave from Stornoway twice on Sunday afternoons.

An average of 25,000 passengers use the Monday to Saturday Loganair services from Stornoway annually.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Iain MacDonald reports
"The battle over Sunday observance has been going on for close on 40 years."
Iain MacDonald reports
"Loganair have flown into trouble."
See also:

11 Jul 02 | Scotland
16 Mar 00 | Scotland
24 Jan 00 | Scotland
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