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Business / Loganair upbeat as company marks 60 years in business

Water cannons at Dundee Airport to celebrate Loganair’s 60th birthday where the first flight took off in 1963. Photo: Alan Richardson

LOGANAIR has marked its diamond anniversary by further extending the routes it flies throughout the UK, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Norway and Denmark.

The Glasgow based airline, which was formed on 1 February 1962, has just added 18 routes to its network through a code share arrangement with British Airways, bringing the total number of routes to 70.

The airline celebrated its 60th birthday this morning with cake and balloons at Dundee Airport where the first ever Loganair flight took off in October 1963.

Over the years Loganair has become a household name in Shetland providing both internal and external essential lifeline services for islanders.

In reaching today’s milestone, Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles paid tribute to former company chair Scott Grier who led a management buy-out in 1997 when the airline was operating just five eight-seater Britten Norman Islanders and single Twin Otter aircraft.

Loganair chairman Scott Grier celebrating the airline's 50th birthday on Wednesday - Photo: Loganair
Scott Grier -aka Mr Loganair – at the golden anniversary ten years ago.

Fifteen years later, celebrating the company’s 50th birthday Loganair had grown significantly by operating the then FlyBe franchise on routes to all the Scottish islands.

But progress has not always been easy or straightforward. Loganair, flying Saab aircraft with the FlvBe livery, experienced plenty of turbulence when a well organised local campaign successfully challenged them on fare structure and reliability.

It was only when the company decided to terminate the franchise agreement with FlyBe in 2017 to become an independent carrier in its own right that Hinkles took the company on a course of rapid growth and greater community engagement.

Though that appeared to be threatened for a while when FlyBe/Eastern Airways staged a short-lived direct competition in autumn of 2017 flying a bigger and faster Embraer170 jet.

Loganair lost the inter island contract for Shetland in 2006.

Loganair today operates 43 aircraft – ranging in size from the eight-seat Britten-Norman Islanders used on its Orkney inter-islands air service to 72-seat ATR72-600 turboprops deployed on major UK domestic routes from airports including Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester and Newquay.

The company employs 830 staff, the vast majority of whom live and work in Scotland.

Hinkles said celebrating the 60th anniversary marked an unrivalled milestone in the UK regional airline industry.

“Today’s milestone could never have been reached without the efforts and dedication of Scott Grier, Loganair’s president and the driving force of the airline between 1976 and 2012; Loganair’s dedicated team of staff throughout the last six decades; and the unwavering commitment of our owners, Stephen and Peter Bond, who have now been involved with the airline for over 20 years,” he said.

Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles. Photo: Shetland News

“The next 60 years will undoubtedly see a different set of challenges, yet I’m already hugely encouraged by progress to develop new carbon-neutral electrical and hydrogen power sources for domestic flights.

“It’s clear that short-haul domestic flights will be the first to benefit from these new technologies, and I fully expect that we’ll see the first of these powering Loganair customers to the destination within the first six of our next 60 years.”

Paying tribute first minister Nicola Sturgeon added: “For six decades now, Loganair, the oldest name in UK airlines, has made an exceptional contribution to the Scottish economy. Since 1962, the airline has helped keep the country moving, ensuring that people across Scotland are connected – particularly those living in and visiting our most remote communities.

“The importance of that has never been clearer than during the pandemic as the airline continued to operate, transporting patients, tests and equipment across Scotland and beyond.”

“Loganair’s leadership in the net zero transition is also hugely appreciated and it should help ensure a very bright future for Scotland’s airline.”

To celebrate the special birthday, Loganair has launched a competition to give away a diamond ticket, consisting of 60 free flights across its network, to one winner.

The airline is asking people to enter the competition by nominating an individual or group – perhaps a sporting team, a youth group  – most deserving of this unusual yet hugely valuable gift.

Loganair pilot Captain Aaron Dickson, Loganair chief commercial officer Kay Ryan and Captain Geoff Rosenbloom, former Loganair pilot who flew with the airline in the 1970s cutting the birthday cake. Photo: Alan Richardson

The airline has also announced the winner of its competition for a commemorative soundtrack to mark its 60 years of service.

Amidst many hugely talented entries, Greenock-based computing lecturer Davy Nicol’s acoustic number Fly with Me impressed the selection panel.

Meanwhile the 18 new partnership routes announced under the expansion of the British Airways and Loganair relationship are:

  • Aberdeen to Belfast City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, and Southampton
  • City of Derry to London and Liverpool
  • Cornwall Airport Newquay to Manchester
  • Exeter to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle
  • Isle of Man to Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester
  • Inverness to Birmingham
  • Norwich to Aberdeen and Edinburgh
  • Teesside to Southampton

Loganair also provides contract services for the oil and gas industry, sports teams and a variety of other customers.

It is one of two airlines providing domestic air services for Royal Mail, operating to the Scottish islands by day and linking to Royal Mail’s national network by night at Edinburgh and East Midlands.