Regional airline Loganair has emerged from the clouds of aviation restrictions to announce its biggest ever winter schedule.
The Paisley-based company has added 50% more seats for sale compared to winter 2019, with increased services for Aberdeen, Orkney and Shetland and a new route from Inverness to Birmingham.
Overall the airline has added 13 new routes for 2021 after they could not be operated in 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis. The new routes will see previously summer-only services introduced in winter for the first time, commencing from 29 October 2021 through to the end of March 2022.
The winter schedule builds on growth of its summer schedule for 2021, as it increases capacity as part of its recovery plan following the pandemic. Recently the airline announced pre-tax losses of £12.7 million for the year to the end of March 2020, with the early impact of the pandemic among the contributing factors. This compared to pre-tax profits of £1m the previous year.
Two ATR42 aircraft with 48 seats each will replace two Saab 340 with 33 seats as part of both the Shetland and Orkney service, providing an increase in seats on the Edinburgh to Shetland route by 30% and on the Edinburgh to Orkney route by 48%, Loganair said.
The Manchester-Aberdeen service has been operating once a day, six days per week on a reduced service amid the pandemic. Loganair will be increasing this service throughout summer with plans to be operating up to three times daily, five days per week and two times daily, two days per week from September onwards and into the winter season
The new Inverness to Birmingham route will fly up to five services per week.
Other new routes for include services to Isle of Man, Liverpool and Teesside, while existing routes to destinations such as Southampton and Birmingham will see services increased in comparison to 2019.
Non-essential travel across the UK resumed last month with the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions.
Kay Ryan, chief commercial officer at Loganair, said the company was now able to “fully realise” ambitions for new routes that had been derailed by the pandemic.
She said: “There is no doubt that the last 15 months have been the toughest in record for the aviation industry. Given the challenges we have faced, we are thrilled to be able to maintain the regional connectivity needed across the country, and in particular opening up the UK for our more remote island communities.
“Loganair had planned an ambitious program for both summer and winter 2020 with several new destinations appearing on our route map and I am delighted that we are now able to fully realise our ambitions for both seasons.
“Our winter program, from 29 October through to the end of March 2022, represents a 50% increase in seats across the network and underlines our commitment to keeping the UK connected.”
Nearly £3m of the company’s losses announced in March were attributable to the onset of the pandemic last year.
Efforts to shore up its finances until skies fully open have so far proved fruitful. Loganair signed up for the UK Government’s Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme last July, agreeing a £25m loan facility with Clydesdale Bank. At the same time, owners Stephen and Peter Bond pledged an £11m two-year support package for the business.
Recently the company recruited a new chief financial officer, David Bowden, who previously held the post of CFO at Fiji Airways at all cargo carrier, CargoLogicAir.
Loganair is now the UK’s largest regional airline, with more than 70 domestic routes.
New routes launching as part of the winter schedule include:
City of Derry – Liverpool
Bristol – Teesside
Birmingham – Isle of Man
Belfast – Isle of Man
Belfast – Teesside
Manchester – Newquay
Exeter – Glasgow
Newcastle – Newquay
Exeter – Newcastle
Edinburgh – Newquay
Exeter – Norwich
Birmingham – Inverness
Edinburgh – Exeter