Three new 50-seat planes will be added to the Loganair fleet early next year in response to passenger demand.
The Saab 2000 aircraft, which are larger than the planes already in operation, will be based in Aberdeen but will fly primarily on the Shetland route.
With 50 seats, the new aircraft will offer 51 per cent more capacity than the 33-seat Saab 340s. Loganair says they will also be more comfortable, with greater seat width, greater noise suppression and increased crosswinds limits.
Chief operating officer Phil Preston said the Shetland route had showed particular growth, with 13,000 scheduled passengers in August last year and 15,000 in the same period this year, some of this due to oil and gas work.
He said that acquiring the new planes, which will work alongside the Saab 340s, was a “big decision”. The added capacity would add reliablity to the route, he said, and possibly could even mean cheaper fares.
The Saab 2000 had been chosen for its excellent performance on smaller airfields. Mr Preston said: “It is the ideal aircraft and is extremely capable in terms of operation in the challenging conditions often encountered in areas such as Shetland.”
Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams said: “It’s a huge commitment of cash and logistically to add these new aircraft to the fleet.” The three planes would be permanent additions, and several months would be needed to prepare for their arrival, with pilot and engineer training and organising spare parts. No definite date has been given, but the planes will start flying in the first half of the year.
In other developments, flights to Glasgow on Monday and Friday which will offer good connections to London will start in November, and the fifth weekday rotation between Aberdeen and Sumburgh will continue beyond January.
To add flexibility to the service, a bus service from Edinburgh Airport to the bus station in Glasgow will be introduced.