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Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 00:05 GMT 01:05 UK
Turbulent take-off for historic flight
Air traffic control tower
The service has sparked controversy
History will be made in the Hebrides when the first ever Sunday flight lands on the Isle of Lewis.

The Loganair service has provoked controversy on the island where supporters say it is essential to the local economy, but detractors have attacked an unwelcome breach of the Sabbath.

The opponents of the Sunday service, led by the church in the strictly religious Western Isles, pleaded for locals to preserve the traditional way of life.

The Lord's Day Observance Society, which campaigns for the sanctity of the Sabbath, said islanders had been "trampled" upon with the decision to introduce Sunday flights.

Sunday ferry protest
Attempts to introduce a Sunday ferry were blocked
Calum Maclean, secretary for the Lewis and Harris branch, said: "We can't say to people to boycott the flights as it is up to individuals to decide whether they want to use the service on a Sunday.

"But what we would say is that if people and businesses want to preserve the Sabbath on the island, don't use it.

"These Sunday flights are a breach of God's law and will have an adverse effect on the whole community life on this island as we know it. This is only the start."

Mr Maclean was speaking on the eve of Loganair's new passenger service to Stornoway.

Public demand

The flight is due to touch down in the early afternoon, but people arriving on the island will find public services and businesses closed.

The move has prompted fears that ferries, buses and taxis could follow suit, threatening the traditional way of life on the remote island.

And those fears were heightened when a second airline, British Midland, recently announced it was starting a seven-day Edinburgh to Stornoway service from Monday.

Mr Maclean added: "People feel these flights have been imposed on them without any consultation whatsoever."

Stornoway airport
The church is opposed to the service
He also suggested a survey of 150 businesses on the island revealed that two-thirds were against Sunday flights.

Mr Maclean, however, did not believe there would be repeat scenes from 1965 when major protests were held against Sunday ferry sailings to Skye.

Loganair bosses have defended their decision to introduce the Sunday flights, which they have been considering for some time to meet demand.

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

It will operate from Inverness to Stornoway, Stornoway to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Stornoway and Stornoway to Inverness.

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

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The BBC's Huw Williams
"Until recently even the swings in council-owned parks were padlocked on Saturday nights"
See also:

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