The first of the new Saab 2000 aircraft was introduced on the Aberdeen to Sumburgh route today.
The plane, operated by Flybe franchise partner Loganair, took off on its inaugural commercial flight from Dyce Airport at 3pm. With 50 seats it has 40 per cent more capacity than the 34-seat Saab 340s currently used on the service.
A further two Saab 2000s will be introduced this summer to be used across Loganair’s services, increasing seat capacity by more than 20 per cent.
To celebrate the launch of the first flight, Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams presented the Saab 2000’s first paying passenger, Shetland-based doctor Aileen Brown, with flowers and a voucher for return flights to celebrate the aircraft’s induction into service.
Mr Adams said: “The acquisition of the three Saab 2000s, now the biggest aircraft in our fleet, again underlines our commitment to improving the overall experience of our customers by ensuring increased demand for services between Aberdeen and Sumburgh continues to be met.
“Continued growth in our passenger numbers year on year demonstrates public confidence in the services we provide and the addition of the Saab 2000s aircraft underlines Loganair’s drive to keep Scotland connected.”
Loganair operates a total of 32 flights a week between Aberdeen and Sumburgh.
The airline’s fleet now features 29 aircraft including the existing 14 Saab 340s, six Dornier 328s, two Twin Otters and two Britton Norman “Islanders”. It also operates two Saab 340 freight aircraft.
Sumburgh Airport manager Nigel Flaws said: “Loganair’s decision to boost capacity on the busy Sumburgh-Aberdeen route is good news for passengers, particularly for those working in the energy sector.
“The introduction of the larger Saab 2000 aircraft underlines Loganair’s confidence in the route, and comes at a time of significant growth for the airport. This new aircraft will be a welcome addition to the airport and will offer an enhanced service on this important route.”
Chairman of the SIC’s environment and transport committee and ZetTrans, Allan Wishart, said: “Shetland is experiencing a period of significant development across several sectors at the moment, and Loganair’s investment in larger aircraft for our lifeline air services is very welcome news indeed.”