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Transport / Transport operators experience healthy bookings

LOGANAIR is implementing its full summer timetable from Shetland on 5 July in response to encouraging booking numbers.

The airline’s upbeat message has been echoed by lifeline ferry operator Serco NorthLink, which is experiencing strong growth in freight and high passenger booking numbers for the summer.

Giving presentations to a virtual meeting of the Shetland external transport forum on Wednesday afternoon both Loganair’s chief commercial officer Kay Ryan and NorthLink’s managing director Stuart Garrett warned that their projections were based on the assumption of continuing easing of current Covid restriction.

Ryan said the airline was currently down between 15 and 18 per cent on scheduled passenger bookings from Shetland when compared to figures from 2019.

“We are quietly encouraged as these numbers are climbing steadily, and our Shetland demand has probably been our most robust across the network,” she said.

“In view of that we plan to return to our full summer schedule from 5 July – not allowing for any further restrictions being imposed.

“So from 5 July the Aberdeen service returns to three flight a day, Edinburgh to two, Glasgow, Inverness and Kirkwall to one.

“We see no reason that that shouldn’t happen as long as demand continues as is.”

Stuart Garrett
Serco NorthLink Ferries’ managing director Stuart Garrett.

The Bergen service, however, remains suspended for 2021.

Meanwhile NorthLink has experienced a 21 per cent growth in freight carried on all routes in the first five months of the year when compared to the same period last year.

Passenger numbers have also started growing again, although the two passenger vessels which service Shetland continue to have their capacity restricted to 335 passengers as the one metre social distancing rule remains.

Garrett said the number of cabins booked had also gone up, describing passengers as “very Covid aware”.

He added: “For the period of June to August 2020 on the Lerwick to Aberdeen routes, last year we carried 4,543 passengers, and this year for the same period we have booked to carry 23,150, so that’s an increase of over 18,600.

“Even though we have reduced capacity, the volumes have come back very strongly in terms of advance bookings for 2021.”