BRISTOW Helicopters has awarded the interim contract for the Integrated Aviation Consortium, which transports offshore oil workers from Aberdeen to Scatsta, to Eastern Airways.
The independent regional airline will run the contract from 7th February next year until June 2010, while the permanent contract is due to go out to tender at the end of this month, and it spells the end for Shetland’s short era of commercial jet travel.
The new operator will take over the service from Flightline, which uses 90-seat British Aerospace 146 jets on the service, in February and Eastern Airways will use its turboprop Saab 2000 planes.
The aircraft is a stretched version of the Saab 340s used to fly passengers in and out of Sumburgh. It will shuttle back and forth between Dyce and Scatsa to complete four round-trips each day and can carry up to 50 passengers. It is not anticipated that there will be any change to the flight schedule.
Flightline had been given six months’ notice earlier this year after Bristow became concerned at its ability to deliver the service to the standards required – its contract had been due to expire in June next year. A spokeswoman for the consortium said Bristow had felt “the time was right” to explore other options.
An Eastern Airways spokesman said: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this important contract for the Integrated Aviation Consortium.
“We are looking forward to working with Bristow Helicopters and the IAC as this further strengthens our position providing reliable services to support the needs of the North Sea oil and gasindustry.”
A spokeswoman for Bristow Helicopters said: “We are looking forward to a successful partnership working with Eastern Airways on this important service.”
It is thought that Flybe was the other name on the shortlist for the shortened contract and there had been speculation that the budget airline was set to take over the route, prompted by the presence of a Flybe Q400 plane at Sumburgh and Scatsta last month on a familiarisation flight.