LOGANAIR has issued figures showing that its flights have been more reliable than rival Flybe’s over the last few months – while the Scottish airline also retains a two-thirds market share on routes in and out of Sumburgh.
Managing director Jonathan Hinkles released the figures following a public meeting held by Flybe in Lerwick on Thursday.
He said Loganair operated 83 per cent of its flights to and from Sumburgh Airport within 15 minutes of schedule in September and October.
This is in contrast to Flybe’s figure of around 68 per cent. The figures include weather, technical faults and unforeseen factors such as runway issues at Aberdeen Airport.
Hinkles also said seven out of 10 passengers flying to or from Sumburgh from 1 November to 20 November on the three routes serviced by both airlines travelled with Loganair.
Flybe currently operates a single Embraer 170 jet on its routes to/from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, while Loganair uses a number of smaller Saabs.
Shetland News requested the fresh figures from Loganair after Flybe held a meeting in Lerwick to give the public an update on its performance.
NHS Shetland, meanwhile, has confirmed that it will continue to use Loganair as its primary patient travel provider to honour its existing agreement – but it also said would book people on Flybe flights if there was no availability on Loganair flights.
Chief executive Ralph Roberts said its agreement with Loganair runs out in autumn next year, with a competitive procurement exercise then due to take place which will look into price and reliability.
The well-worn PR war between the two airlines continued on Thursday at Flybe’s meeting, with Loganair staff on hand outside the auditorium to give out snacks.
But Hinkles said on Friday that he does not want to get drawn into tit-for-tat spats over issues with individual flights.
“We can quote many instances where we’ve flown but our competitor has not – such as an October day where its morning flights were cancelled,” he said.
“We flew over 300 customers, delivered Shetland’s mail and newspapers and protected NHS appointments before their first service appeared that lunchtime.
“However, we don’t believe it’s sensible for every decision made by every captain, regardless of which airline’s uniform they wear, to be played out in the public domain and we’ll refrain from further comment.”
The two airlines went head-to-head on 1 September after previously serving Shetland as franchise partners.
The confirmation of Flybe running its own service in competition with Loganair was greeted with hope that it might reduce air fares – something which seems to have been realised.
Return trips to Aberdeen, for instance, can be found for around £70 with the Air Discount Scheme, while trips to Glasgow and back are available for about £100.
It is thought that passenger numbers coming through Sumburgh in October may be up by around one fifth compared to last year.
Flybe interim chief commercial officer Ronny Matheson told Thursday’s meeting that the airline wanted to “break down the barrier that was previously price”.
However, questions remain in the community about Flybe’s ability to run its daily schedule with one plane – while the number of empty seats on some of the airlines’ flights has also caused concern, not just for business viability but on the environmental footprint too.