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Transport / Availability of spare parts continuing to prove a problem for airline

Meanwhile Loganair is changing the time of its Sunday evening Glasgow-Sumburgh flight to reduce risk of cancellations

A Loganair flight preparing to take off from Sumburgh Airport. Photo: Shetland News

LOGANAIR chief executive Jonathan Hinkles says continued issues with the availability of spare parts is one reason why the airline’s Sumburgh cancellation rate has been slightly above average this year.

For 2023 to date the cancellation rate has been around 4.5 per cent, which is above the average of three to 3.5 per cent.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of Shetland’s external transport forum, councillor Liz Peterson said she has flown four times this year and on each occasion there had been a delay or cancellation.

She added that people were now starting to book flights up to two days in advance to avoid any complications for onward travel.

The councillor asked what Loganair was doing to try to ensure reliability so people can “trust that the flight is actually going to get there on time at the other end”.

Hinkles acknowledged that cancellations are “unfortunate” but said a primary factor has been the continued problems with the global supply chain for spare parts.

He also said an aircraft was unavailable for around three weeks in the middle of the summer, which meant a standby aircraft was put into use.

“We were operating the fleet without the normal levels of back-up resilience that we would expect to have,” Hinkles said.

He said an additional aircraft was drafted in during the height of the summer, “but that did not always work to plan” – with its operator sometimes having crewing issues.

Figures presented to Tuesday’s meeting showed that  in 2023 so far there has been 2,969 Sumburgh flights.

Of that there had been 134 cancellations, with the many due to weather, but 52 were for reasons deemed to be within Loganair’s control.

The ‘on-time’ performance for Sumburgh flights was 63 per cent of flights within 15 minutes. However in August that figure was 58 per cent.

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Hinkles said Sumburgh performance is in line with UK averages.

He also confirmed the airline is planning to bring forward the Sunday evening Glasgow-Sumburgh flight by 30 minutes in a bid to reduce in the danger of cancellation.

The flight usually arrives within 15 minutes of Sumburgh Airport closing, and Hinkles said there has been problems extending opening hours on Sundays.

He said this was regarding security staff, and not air traffic control.

The meeting heard this has happened twice in the last five weeks, including on Sunday (3 September) – with that particular cancellation due to a baggage weight issue.

The flight will now leave Glasgow 30 minutes earlier from 10 September.

It comes after Loganair ‘delinked’ the Manchester-Aberdeen-Sumburgh service to avoid knock-on effects.

Hinkles also said a Loganair airport coordinator has been introduced at Edinburgh Airport.

“Where we can see there are issues there, we’ve taking action to fix those issues,” he said.

He told the meeting that work continues on trying to improve communication with passengers affected by delays and cancellations.

This includes offering a live plane tracker and providing more information about the cause of delays, while there is also a longer-term project involving automatic re-bookings and hotel stays.

Meeting chair Councillor Moraig Lyall reiterated that Shetland residents are “solely dependent” on Loganair when it comes to flying to and from the mainland.

“You are in a very key position for us as an island group,” she said. “We rely very heavily on you doing a good job.”

The councillor said “we live in hope and expectation that your figures which you’ve presented today will continue in an upward line”.

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