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Transport / ‘Small green shoots’ appearing in Loganair’s bid to improve reliability

Loganair CEO Luke Farajallah. Photo: Loganair

THE NEW chief executive of Loganair says there some “small green shoots” emerging in the airline’s quest to boost reliability.

But Luke Farajallah told a meeting of Shetland’s external transport forum on Tuesday that there was no “silver bullet” and changes will take time to show up in reliability figures.

Meanwhile he suggested Loganair being out of the local news for the wrong reasons will be one way of measuring success in bringing back the airline’s reliability.

In interviews after becoming Loganair’s new chief executive earlier this year, Farajallah said in March that his priority in the role was to stabilise operations and improve reliability.

One element of this was cutting some routes from its wider network outside the isles in a bid to stabilise the daily flying programme, which was introduced in May.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting Farajallah said there had already been some signs of recovery.

But he said: “Confidence will return, only when we don’t speak of actions – it’s when we deliver the actions.”

The chief executive said all airlines have bad days, but in the past bad days have turned into bad weeks for the company.

Farajallah said Loganair had one of these bad days on Monday but operations were back to near-normal the next day.

He added that he would not “promise better times – you will be the judge of that, not me”.

A presentation said reliability was still behind on last year but had improved since January and February.

For matters under Loganair’s control there were nine cancellations in April and eight in May on Shetland routes, compared to 19 in January and 12 in February. There were only two in March.

Punctuality was three per cent higher than the previous year and is building.

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Chief commercial officer Luke Lovegrove said the increased resilience is expected to show more in future months.

In April passenger numbers were up compared to last year, although May was slightly down.

Lovegrove said forward bookings for later in the summer are looking “very healthy”.

He also told Tuesday’s meeting that the Sumburgh-Dundee-Heathrow service, introduced last year, continues to be a success.

Lovegrove also noted that almost one third of traffic on that service is now connecting onwards with British Airways, mostly on long haul flights.

Forum chair councillor Moraig Lyall also told the meeting that in her view increased community confidence in Loganair could result in less people making “ghost” bookings on the NorthLink ferry as a back-up option in case of flight cancellations.

This sometimes results in people making last-minute cancellations on the ferry if their flight does end up running.

Lyall said increased confidence in Loganair could also encourage more people to fly generally than take the boat, which could relieve capacity pressure on the NorthLink service during peak times.

The councillor added that she was “grateful” to see some improvement in reliability figures, “but we really need see that continuing”.

Lyall said another thing which could encourage people to fly was that if the fare structure was re-examined.

Meanwhile councillor Arwed Wenger questioned whether there were any particular times of the day that were most affected by reliability issues.

Farajallah said there was no particular time of the day that was deemed to be more vulnerable to unreliability.

He added that air traffic control issues were among the key reasons for disruption outside of weather.

Councillor Robbie McGregor also asked if the service from Sumburgh to Bergen could be expanded outside of just the summer, but he was informed that while routes are kept under review, there were no plans at the moment to extend to the winter.

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