LOGANAIR says it is encouraged after recording a year-on-year increase in passenger numbers in the first half of September despite facing direct competition on several flights from ex franchise partner Flybe for the first time.
The airline’s managing director Jonathan Hinkles said Loganair was “holding our own” on its Shetland routes – to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Kirkwall – and said detailed figures would be presented to next week’s external transport forum.
Loganair and Flybe officially parted ways on 1 September after operating flights to the Scottish islands for nearly a decade. Flybe is using an Embraer plane to challenge its former teammate on three Aberdeen flights and one each to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Hinkles said: “There have been quite a number of days where sales have exceeded the levels they were last year, and I think that’s a positive sign that people are finding our new home online, the new travel agency system is all working and connected in the way it should be, and the British Airways codeshare is working and flowing bookings through.”
The airline may have feared losing custom as it switched to using its own website, especially when the previous online destination for booking flights now belonged to a direct competitor, but Hinkles said that scenario had not come to pass.
“There’s always a latent concern when you go through this kind of major change that your sales are going to take a dip while you establish that, but it’s established itself very quickly, it’s working and we remain very, very grateful to everybody for the support we’re receiving both in Shetland and throughout the Highlands and Islands.”
Figures for the first few weeks are likely to be presented at next Thursday’s external transport forum. There have been suggestions that Flybe’s larger aircraft has been running at an average capacity of just 20 per cent on some quieter days recently.
The airline's chief revenue officer Vincent Hodder, however, said Flybe was "generally pleased" with how its service is functioning.
"Flybe is encouraged that the expectations of market expansion and room for competition it voiced prior to starting these services with its new partner, Eastern Airways, are showing signs of bearing fruit," he said.
"Flybe is generally pleased with the way its new routes are developing. It has continually stressed that, despite competition, the market would indeed expand on these lifeline routes, that it would lead to much-needed lower prices and that islanders would benefit from the different options newly available to them. This, along with the level of product innovation that the competition has now sparked, is great news for Shetland."