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Energy sector workers complain over flight cancellations on Norwich-Aberdeen route

An Eastern Airways aircaft at Norwich Airport. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

An Eastern Airways aircaft at Norwich Airport. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Energy industry workers have revealed their frustration at the delays and problems caused by cancellations of flights linking the country’s biggest power hubs.

Frequent fliers on the route between Norwich and Aberdeen say they have regularly missed meetings as a result of the disruption, which they suggested may stem from a lack of bookings following the downturn in the oil and gas industry since 2014.

However, the carriers behind the services, Eastern Airways and BMI Regional, said the cancellations were due to a series of technical and operational issues including staff sickness and mechanical problems.

Flights run three to four times a day, six days a week, between the energy hubs in East Anglia and Aberdeen, but some passengers said they had taken to travelling a day in advance due to delay fears.

In the past week, at least three flights have been cancelled.

Terry Simmons, UK country manager for energy sector supply group DistributionNOW, said he had travelled to Stansted to fly via Glasgow on occasion because it was more reliable. He said: “The service has got so bad in the last 12 months that I personally always travel the day before as the flight is so unreliable it seems there is as much chance of it being cancelled as flying.”

Sean Ward, who works as a drilling superintendent for a major operator in Aberdeen, said: “I often have guys come to see me from the shipyards in Singapore. On three occasions I have been more than four hours late for the meetings – even when I have booked the Sunday night flight to give myself time to get there if it is cancelled.

“Monday morning [the flight] invariably has issues so the guys I am meeting end up waiting. They have flown half way round the world and are on time, I have flown from Norwich and been late – what sort of message does that send about the region?”

An Eastern Airways spokesman said: “We sincerely apologise to customers that have faced disruption on the Norwich-Aberdeen service this week, which was due to a number of different issues, however, we acknowledge this is not the standard Eastern Airways customers expect.”

A BMI Regional spokesman said there had been recent cancellations due to technical issues, crew sickness and fog.

She said: “In all instances it would have not been in the interests of passengers and crew to fly so selected services were cancelled.”

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