LOGANAIR has introduced the first of 13 planes to be “completely transformed” as part of a £3.5 million renewal programme for its fleet of Saab 340 aircraft.
The aircraft, named The Spirit of Orkney “in acknowledgement of the links between Loganair and one of the many island communities it has served during the last 54 years”, has had its interior and exterior “completely overhauled” at a cost of almost £270,000.
Loganair said the interior of the Saab 340 had been stripped out and renewed, with the installation of “new lightweight, ergonomically-designed modern seating to provide improved leg room”, the re-covering of interior panels to help reduce vibration, new sound-proofing, carpeting and LED lighting.
The aircraft has also been painted in franchise partner Flybe’s new purple branding.
Engineering crews coordinated the renewal project in conjunction with the aircraft’s “heavy maintenance check” (HMC).
The process, carried out every three years at a cost of £350,000, involves stripping back the aircraft to its basic airframe structure, which is then scrutinised using X-ray machines to “ensure its integrity”.
Loganair, which has been the subject of heavy criticism with its routes plagued by delays and technical faults in recent months, said the renewal and maintenance work was conducted by a team of 32 engineers and involved “approximately 7,000 man hours”.
The airline’s chairman David Harrison said Loganair was “extremely pleased” with the completion and thanked transport minister Derek Mackay for “taking the time to see the end result for himself”.
“Our engineers and support teams put an incredible amount of time and effort into the project, and I’m certain our customers will appreciate their endeavour and enjoy the comfort benefits the renewal project brings to the Saab 340 fleet,” Harrison said.
The three-year programme to renew the Saab 340 fleet is part of a wider £15 million investment programme including the purchase of two 50-seater Saab 2000 aircraft and a new spares hub at Glasgow Airport.
Mackay said he was pleased Loganair was investing in its fleet and “the upgrades they are making to their aircraft will improve the passenger experience, offering those on board greater comfort and convenience.”
He said: “Loganair has embarked on a significant programme of improvements, including engineering support, and is making significant investment in new planes and the existing fleet.
“This is another welcome step in that process and I hope passengers will start to see the benefit of this investment as soon as possible.”
In the autumn Loganair admitted the volume of delays on its services had been unacceptable and pledged to take steps to improve punctuality.
The most recently-published performance statistics, for October 2015, show that Loganair’s reliability slumped to 72.7 per cent of flights operating with delays of 15 minutes or less. That made it the most poorly performing of the 13 airlines analysed by the Flight On Time website.
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said: “Refurbishing the Saab aircraft is good news for passengers, but it must go hand in hand with improved reliability and service.
“I want Loganair to respond to Shetland’s needs by addressing the needs of our islands and ensuring that we can again take an on time departure as a normal occurrence.”
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