in Aerospace / Events

Take-off for Scotland's airline

Posted 1 September 2017 · Add Comment

Loganair, the only airline based in Scotland, today celebrated a historic occasion as it took to the skies under its own colours for the first time in 25 years.

During that time, Loganair has been operating as a franchise partner – firstly for BA and latterly since 2008 for Flybe - with its aircraft wearing the livery of these two companies.

However today saw the creation of a national airline for Scotland, headquartered at Glasgow Airport - the result of a £4m investment that has secured 600 jobs throughout Scotland, including 160 at Loganair's bases in the Highlands and Islands, and created 15 new posts. The airline contributes over £300m per annum to the Scottish economy.

The official inaugural flight carrying Loganair's bold new tartan livery flew into Glasgow from Islay this morning (above).

The tartan-tailed Spirit of Harris, a Saab 340, was welcomed by a spectacular water cannon salute, normally reserved to mark the launch of a new route - performed by Glasgow Airport’s Fire Department. It was flown by Captain Rebecca Simpson, a veteran of 14 years, one of the female pilots who make up 13% of Loganair's flight crew - more than double the average of other airlines.

The pipe band Sgoil Lionacleit, from the Benbecula comprehensive school of the same name, played as the aircraft landed. The band recently finished first in the free style category of the 2017 Scottish School Pipe Band Championships.

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles greeted passengers with a specially inscribed pewter and glass gift. 

Today's celebrations were the culmination of nine months of hard work since the end of the Flybe franchise agreement was announced at the end of last year.

This included the creation of an entire customer service and ticket accounting capability at the airline’s Glasgow headquarters, as well as setting up an e-commerce ticketing system, new flight and cabin crew uniform designs and new codeshare deals with British Airways and BMI Regional - allowing Loganair passengers one-ticket stress-free travel to international destinations.

Jonathan Hinkles said: "Today is a major milestone in the 54-year history of Loganair. Although we have flown as a franchise carrier for larger airlines over the last 25 years, there is still a huge level of recognition and affinity for the Loganair name throughout Scotland and beyond.

Hinkles went on to thank Loganair's customers for the vote of confidence they've given the airline since the announcement of its break with Flybe.

He said: "We are extremely grateful to all of the communities in our key destinations for the tremendous support they are affording us, which is translating into very strong advance bookings. We're thanking them today with a celebratory 24-hour 10% off flash sale, but in the longer term we're introducing a set of customer enhancements that we simply didn't have the freedom to introduce when we were a franchise partner.

"These include improvements to the pre-flight experience for customers, with the introduction of boarding cards on mobile devices, earlier access to on-line check-in (now available from four days up to one hour before the flight) and the removal of ID checks at boarding gates for domestic flights - all aimed at making travel more convenient and more enjoyable.

“We are also continuing to offer a free checked hold baggage allowance for every customer, pro-actively abolishing credit card payment surcharges and making our flights available to book further in advance than before.”

The airline’s new, distinctly Scottish identity continues in the cabins of its aircraft where colourful Harris Tweed headrest covers now appear on all aircraft and Tunnock's caramel wafers are part of the range of complimentary refreshments offered to all customers, with Tunnock's sponsoring the in-flight catering carts.

On launch day, Loganair also introduced a new destination to its route network with services to the most remote island community in Scotland, Fair Isle – with the first flight taking off from Kirkwall at 12.15pm today.

On Monday, its new shuttle service between Glasgow and Manchester takes to the air with up to six flights each way on every weekday, offering far greater choice of travel times and more competitive fares for customers on this important cross-border route.


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