Performance of Northern Isles transport links under focus

Loganair is making inroads in tackling delays, cancellations and other areas that have fallen short, the company’s chief executive assured a meeting of the external transport forum today.

Speaking at the forum Jonathan Hinkles said that he wanted to reafirm Loganair’s reputation as Scotland’s and Shetland’s airline that was safe, clean-on time and that ran with no dramas.

Mr Hinkles, who took over the airline’s top job at the end of June, said that across the board investments in Loganair were paying dividends, with six flights delayed and seven cancelled in the third quarter of this year compared with 23 delayed and 17 cancelled in the same period last year.

He said that Loganair, which operates the Northern Isles airline service as part of contract with Flybe, had gone through a “turbulent period in the airline’s history” and there was still much work to do.

“My main focus is to make sure that Loganair provides the service that our customers need,” he said.

Loganair had logged its best Q3 performance since mid-2014 and flights had gone from one in 183 disrupted to one in 600 disrupted. This year 88 per cent of flights had gone within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure time compared with 85 per cent in the same period last year.

Passenger numbers an Loganair routes to and from Sumburgh had fallen 2.5 per cent compared with last year and were down 4.4 per cent on the busiest Aberdeen route, while passenger numbers to Bergen had risen by 15.4 per cent.

New Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles.
Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles.

Mr Hinkles said that some of the delays had arisen form difficulties in ground agents being ill-prepared to deal with passengers with mobility issues. Loganair was lobbying for the introduction of ground based Aviramps to be used instead of aircraft steps. This would make things much easier for passengers with reduced mobility and should knock six minutes off the half-hour turnaround time for aircraft.

The Aviramps were significantly cheaper and quicker than the presently used Ambulifts that bring embarkation and disembarkation to a halt when in use.

Loganair was trialling a new text flight delay notification system in the Northern Isles that would be rolled out nationwide and was seeking to introduce a more pro-active system of weather warnings so that passengers would be better informed about the likelihood of on time or delayed departures.

The Loganair fleet is in the midst of a cosmetic overhaul with new seats, lighting and livery for its Saab 340 and Saab 2000 aircraft – one of which on the Sumburgh to Aberdeen route will be named Spirit of Shetland.

Ground staff are also to be decked out in smart new standardised uniforms.

Outlining Serco NorthLink’s performance as ferry operator, managing director Suart Garrett said that passenger numbers were slightly down on 2015, but this had been expected and was a result of the downturn in oil and gas construction business.

Car numbers rose from 16,432 to 17,907 however and there was also an increase in freight, much of this due to an increase in fish heading south.

Mr Garrett said that there had been two days in September for each of the ferries Hjaltland and Hrossey where all the 117 cabins had been used. Cabin usage had been typically 77 per cent in September and bunk usage about 50 per cent.

Six ferry sailings had been delayed owing to unseasonal gales in the June to September period and there had been 42 delayed freight departures.

Customer satisfaction was also high with the vast majority of 99 per cent of passengers rating the overall service as “excellent or good” and only one per cent giving it a “poor” rating.


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