LOGANAIR today introduced the first of three 50-seater Saab 2000 aircraft on its services between Shetland and the Scottish mainland.
The first aircraft took off on its inaugural commercial flight from Aberdeen to Sumburgh at 3pm on Monday.
The new planes will boost capacity on the route as they can carry 40 per cent more passengers than the 34-seat current Saab 340 model.
A further two Saab 2000s will be introduced this summer to be used across Loganair’s services, increasing its overall seat capacity by more than 20 per cent.
The maiden flight coincided with new figures issued by Highlands and Islands Airport (HIAL) indicating that Sumburgh is Scotland’s fastest growing airport.
A boost in oil and gas traffic resulted in a 32 per cent increase in passenger numbers, and a terminal upgrade to allow Sumburgh to expand its operations in the energy industry is planned in the coming months.
To mark the new plane’s first commercial flight, Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams presented the Saab 2000’s first paying customer, Shetland-based doctor Aileen Brown, with flowers and a voucher for complimentary return flights.
Adams said: “The acquisition of the three Saab 2000s, now the biggest aircraft in our fleet, again underlines our commitment to improving the overall experience of our customers by ensuring increased demand for services between Aberdeen and Sumburgh continues to be met.
“Continued growth in our passenger numbers year on year demonstrates public confidence in the services we provide and the addition of the Saab 2000 aircraft underlines Loganair’s drive to keep Scotland connected.”
The move was welcomed by management at both Sumburgh Airport and Aberdeen Airport.
Airport manager Nigel Flaws said: “Loganair’s decision to boost capacity on the busy Sumburgh-Aberdeen route is good news for passengers, particularly for those working in the energy sector.
“The introduction of the larger Saab 2000 aircraft underlines Loganair’s confidence in the route, and comes at a time of significant growth for the airport.”
SIC councillor Allan Wishart, who chairs Shetland Transport Partnership ZetTrans, said: “Shetland is experiencing a period of significant development across several sectors at the moment, and Loganair’s investment in larger aircraft for our lifeline air services is very welcome news indeed.”