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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 09:11 GMT
Airport hails Sabbath flights
Sunday flight protester
Protesters opposed the introduction of Sunday flights
Sunday flights to the Western Isles have been hailed as a success by airport chiefs as the service marks its first anniversary.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), which operates Stornoway Airport, said passenger numbers had increased by more than 18%.

Regional manager John Hay said the vast majority of feedback over the last year had been positive.

However, Calum Maclean of the Lord's Day Observance Society argued that the flights had "a negative effect" on life on the islands.

The introduction of the seven-day service to Lewis sparked protests from churchgoers who want the Sabbath to be strictly observed.

Campaigners staged a quiet protest and handed out leaflets when the first flight touched down in October last year.

Passed through

They said travelling on the Sabbath was a sin which would damage passengers' own souls and the life of the island.

Loganair and bmi now operate seven-day services to Lewis from the central belt and the Highlands.

More than 107,000 passengers passed through the terminal at Stornoway between last October and September this year - an increase of 18.5% on the previous 12 months.

Mr Hay said: "The significant passenger growth at Stornoway reflects the uptake of the additional services since then.

Airplane sign
The number of passengers travelling to Lewis has risen
"We believe that the move has increased tourist traffic and enabled people to return home to the islands for a weekend and be back on the mainland in time for work on a Monday morning.

"The vast majority of feedback we have had as a result of seven-day operations has been positive and we are delighted that the airport continues to make an important social and economic contribution to the life of the islands."

However, that was disputed by Mr Maclean, the secretary of the Lewis and Harris branch of the Lord's Day Observance Society.

"I would say the opposite of that. I would say it has a negative effect," he said.

"Sunday flights cannot bring any good or prosperity to the island."

He also claimed that the passenger numbers had risen because increased competition had led to cheaper tickets.

Protest over isle's Sunday flight
27 Oct 02  |  Scotland
Second airline makes Sabbath plans
13 Sep 02  |  Scotland
Sabbath flights spark island anger
16 Jul 02  |  Scotland
Sunday ferries sail closer
16 Mar 00  |  Scotland

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