Jets flew empty for 500 miles to pick up Roy­als

●Flybe ac­cused of mov­ing air­craft to se­cure brand­ing on Kate flight

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By ALAS­TAIR DAL­TON Trans­port Cor­re­spon­dent

Flybe flew two empty jets some 500 miles as part of tak­ing the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge and their chil­dren to Aberdeen on Thurs­day, The Scots­man has learned.

The rev­e­la­tion comes days af­ter Wil­liam and Kate were praised for us­ing an economy flight from Nor­wich when Prince Harry and Meghan have been crit­i­cised for a se­ries of pri­vate jet trips.

It is un­der­stood the empty flights made by the two 49-seat air­craft cost around four tonnes of car­bon.

An avi­a­tion source with knowl­edge of what hap­pened said the plane which nor­mally flies the route had been re­placed by a Flybe air­craft in an at­tempt to max­imise press cov­er­age for the com­pany.

East­ern Air­ways, which

op­er­ates the route for Flybe, con­firmed to The Scots­man it swapped a Lo­ganair plane nor­mally used for the flight for an­other of the same type of jet in Flybe liv­ery. East­ern said this was so it would be “wholly com­pli­ant and in con­trol of the op­er­a­tion”.

The sub­sti­tu­tion in­volved an empty Em­braer 45 jet be­ing flown some 100 miles from Hum­ber­side air­port to Nor­wich to pick up the Royal party and reg­u­lar pas­sen­gers.

Lo­ganair’s own Em­braer plane then also flew empty some 400 miles from Nor­wich to Aberdeen so it could op­er­ate the next flight back to Nor­wich.

The Glas­gow air­line has been sub­con­tracted by East­ern since Fe­bru­ary for week­day flights on the route.

The source said: “An East­ern Air­ways jet was flown empty from Hum­ber­side to Nor­wich and then flew the sched­uled flight to Aberdeen with the Roy­als on board.

“The lo­gan air air­craft which nor­mally flies this route for Flybe and East­ern flew from Aberdeen to Nor­wich as usual but then flew empty from Nor­wich to Aberdeen.

“I guess it was to en­sure if they had any Press cov­er­age of the Royal travel, an air­craft with a Flybe logo flew them.

“Heck of a car­bon foot­print to achieve it – not ex­actly en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious.”

Royal au­thor Phil Dampier had said: “The con­trast be­tween Wil­liam, Kate and fam­ily trav­el­ling on a bud­get flight to Scot­land and Harry and Meghan us­ing pri­vate jets couldn’t be starker.

“At the very least they know they would have been crit­i­cised if they had taken a pri­vate jet.”

Flybe said the de­ci­sion to change the air­craft had been East­ern’s. It de­clined to com­ment on the claim that the switch was to gain pub­lic­ity.

Its spokes­woman said: “We were de­lighted to wel­come the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge and their fam­ily on board one of our flights again, this time op­er­ated by our fran­chise part­ner, East­ern Air­ways.

“Please note that op­er­a­tional de­ci­sions gen­er­ally are man­aged ex­clu­sively by East­ern on any route they op­er­ate un­der the fran­chise agree­ment, hence we are not in the po­si­tion to com­ment.”

East­ern Air­ways said it had cho­sen to switch the air­craft af­ter be­ing told the Royal party had booked onto the flight.

Gen­eral man­ager (com­mer­cial and op­er­a­tions) Roger H age said :“fol­low­ing a call and de­tails pro­vided late evening on Wed­nes­day as to mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily hav­ing been booked onto the ser­vice, and that armed Royal Pro­tec­tion Of­fi­cers would ac­com­pany the fam­ily on-board, we elected, given this ser­vice is op­er­ated for Flybe by East­ern, to pro­vide our own air­craft and crew, given the ap­provals and clear­ance re­quired to ac­com­mo­date such.

“This then as­sured our­selves on our own Air Op­er­a­tors Cer­tifi­cate that we would be wholly com­pli­ant and in con­trol of the op­er­a­tion in ac­cor­dance with as­so­ci­ated reg­u­la­tion.

“Hence we po­si­tioned an air­craft on a short 25-minute leg to fa­cil­i­tate the above.”

A Lo­ganair spokesman said: “Our air­craft have op­er­ated the [Nor­wich-aberdeen] route on week­days since we took on this com­mit­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

“Any com­ment on task­ing re­quests in re­la­tion to the con­tract is a mat­ter for our cus­tomer.”

Wil­liam and Kate were praised for tak­ing an economy flight

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