Loganair has received more than £4million in government aid from Transport Scotland to keep lifeline routes to the north in the sky during the coronavirus pandemic.
The impact of Covid-19 has decimated the aviation industry with airlines forced to ground planes and cancel flights as international travel has plummeted.
However, flights to the Highlands and islands are lifeline routes for countless rural communities relying on connections and vital supplies during lockdown.
Now it can be revealed Loganair has received £4.1million in Transport Scotland backing to stay in the air during the coronavirus pandemic.
How has Loganair contributed to pandemic fight?
Throughout the pandemic Loganair flights have maintained services to ensure life in rural communities can continue as normal – as well as support efforts to fight Covid-19.
The airline has run air ambulance aircraft for the Scottish Ambulance Service to carry coronavirus patients and others to hospital.
Some planes have also been adapted to handle specially-designed pods for Covid patients to reduce the infection risk.
The airline has also continue to fly mail to the islands, even adding extra flights as the volumes have increased during lockdown.
And essential cargo, including medical supplies so radiotherapy treatments could continue at island hospitals as well as iPads for the vaccine relief effort have also been flown out.
Meanwhile, Loganair have also flown charter flights for the oil and gas industry and associated construction projects to keep them on schedule.
What is Transport Scotland support for Loganair paying for?
Transport Scotland has been funding a “skeleton service” from Loganair through the coronavirus pandemic.
The scheme has aimed to provide at least one connection to island airports including Orkney, Shetland, Stornoway and others to ensure communities are not cut off.
The £4.1million figure covers the length of a contract that has been running from the end of April last year.
It had been hoped that commercial operations would be able to resume again this month.
However, the expected delay in the relaxation of Covid restrictions from the Scottish Government has led to the contract being extended to August, if needed.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Scottish Government has invested over £1 billion to ensure transport services are available at key times during the pandemic, also allowing for more capacity on some busier routes as we ease out of lockdown.
“Operators have also implemented a range of measures to help manage the risks associated with Covid-19. This focuses on improving ventilation systems, cleaning regimes and providing sanitising points.
“We recognise the importance of maintaining air services to our remote communities to facilitate essential travel and have funded a skeleton service throughout the pandemic.”