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EDITIONS
Sunday, 27 October, 2002, 19:11 GMT
Protest over isle's Sunday flight
Protester
About 60 protesters met the first flight
A 34-seat propeller plane landed at Stornoway Airport on Sunday to a protest from dozens of churchgoers who want to keep the Sabbath special.

The plane, operated by Loganair on behalf of British Airways, is the first ever commercial flight to have landed on the Isle of Lewis on a Sunday.

About 60 campaigners stood in quiet protest and handed out leaflets to passengers saying that travelling on the Sabbath was a sin which will damage their own soul and the life of the island.

Church leaders on the staunchly religious island, to the north west of Scotland, urged local people to boycott the new service and preserve a traditional way of life that includes strict observance of the Sabbath.

Passenger getting off the plane
Loganair says the service is demand driven

Calum Maclean, local representative of the Lord's Day Observance Society, said: "These Sunday flights are a breach of God's law and will have an adverse effect on the whole community life of this island as we know it. This is only the start."

Lewis, with a population of 22,000, is the spiritual home of the Free Church of Scotland. The church only allows work of "necessity and mercy" on Sundays.

On Lewis, where most people belong to either the Free Church or other Presbyterian denominations, almost all business and leisure activity stops for the Sabbath.

Libraries and sports centres are shut, the mobile cinema does not screen films, and even television viewing is frowned upon.

There is no local bus service and no ferries operate to or from the mainland.

Sunday ferry protest
Attempts to introduce a Sunday ferry were blocked

But now Loganair has begun flights between Lewis' main town of Stornoway and Edinburgh and Inverness.

The airline said it is responding to demand from businesses and residents on the island.

Another airline, bmi british midland, plans to start flying between Edinburgh and Stornoway seven days a week beginning on Monday.

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

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"The debate will go on"
BBC Scotland's Raymond Buchanan reports
"For generations Sabbath travel on this island has been a taboo"
See also:

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