Loganair’s new plane was in Shetland on Wednesday on a familiarisation flight prior to entering service next month.
The Saab 2000 is the first of three new planes of this type to be added to the fleet and will be based in Aberdeen. It will fly on the Shetland to Aberdeen route, initially on flights in the middle of the day on weekdays, and will be operational from 14th April, subject to training and regulatory approval.
Phil Preston of Loganair told a meeting of Shetland External Transport Forum that the three Saab 2000s are leased aircraft, and although not new, they are younger than the Saab 340s now in service.
The planes will have a 50-seat capacity, half as much again as the Saab 340s, and therefore more cheap fares will be available. These are already on sale.
The Saab 2000s, the fastest of the commercial turboprops, will offer a reduced journey time, less noise and better performance in cross winds, according to Mr Preston. They will also have wider seating, but customers will have the same baggage allowance as previously.
Mr Preston said the second Saab 2000 will be based in Aberdeen from 21st April and used as back-up for training, with the third based in Edinburgh and used on the Edinburgh to Sumburgh route from June.
Mr Preston said the company’s aspiration is to get more of these larger planes.
Meanwhile he said that there had been growth in passenger numbers on almost all the routes operating to and from Sumburgh during the last year, and the number of flights had increased. Additional flights to Glasgow were introduced last year and the five daily flights to and from Aberdeen were retained this winter, 2013/14 – in previous years the winter service has been reduced.