Loganair is to “fly under its own wings” with news its franchise agreement with Flybe will end next year.
The long-standing Scottish airline will operate flights in its own right from September.
Loganair has been operating under franchise agreements with other airlines for more than 20 years.
But today’s announcement follows a “failure to agree future operational standards and commercial arrangements” between Loganair and Flybe representatives.
The Glasgow-based company says its agreement with Flybe has worked satisfactorily since 2007. But theorganisation is keen to re-establish independent services under its own name.
Crucially, Loganair says independence will provide it with greater opportunity to work with a range of airlines to offer connecting flights beyond its own network of destinations.
The company plans to establish its own reservations system by March next year, which will take bookings for travel on and after 1st September. The air discount scheme (ADS) will continue to be made available on eligible routes.
Discussions with Flybe around the franchise agreement started last year, when Loganair’s reliability was coming under sharp focus.
Loganair says the “significant investments” made since have “yielded excellent results”, with the company now achieving punctuality and reliability which, it says, are ahead of the UK airline industry average.
The company brags that latest punctuality figures published by the Civil Aviation Authority, for May this year, show it was the most punctual airline in the UK, with more than 86 per cent of its flights within 15 minutes of schedule.
The decision not to enter into an extended franchise agreement with Flybe was made “solely by Loganair’s board,” the company says.
Loganair plans to retain the ability to check in a 20kg bag within all its fares and ticket types, free of charge.
Where other optional services, such as the ability to select specific seats on the aircraft in advance, are offered and provide “added value for our customers”, the company says it will continue to make these available at a “fair and equitable additional charge, as today”.
Flybe may have some advantages but their customer care is raised with me time and time again. TAVISH SCOTT
Today’s move is regarded as encouraging by isles MSP and former Scottish transport minister, Tavish Scott.
“I strongly welcome Loganair’s decision to fly under its own wings again. Flybe may have some advantages but their customer care is raised with me time and time again. So Loganair flying as Loganair means travellers know who they are and who is responsible for the service,” he said.
“Loganair have begun addressing their reliability problems by recruiting more engineers and a opening a new parts store at Glasgow Airport. So the airline’s success depends on providing reliable and affordable links to the Scottish mainland. They also have a crucial role in carrying passengers to Aberdeen for hospital appointments. So this is a lifeline service.”
Chief executive of Loganair’s parent company, Airline Investments Ltd, Peter Simpson, said: “Today’s announcement is a major milestone in the 54-year history of Loganair.
“Although Loganair has flown as a franchise carrier for larger airlines over the last 24 years, there is still a huge level of recognition and affinity for the Loganair name throughout Scotland and beyond. We believe the time is right for Scotland’s airline to now spread its wings once again, and are delighted to be introducing a bold new corporate identity to accompany this important move.”
Managing director Jonathan Hinkles added: “On behalf of the 600-strong team at Loganair, I’m delighted that Scotland’s Airline will be taking to the skies in its own right.
“All of us are very much looking forward to providing the highest standards of safety, punctuality and customer service synonymous with the Loganair name. We hold tremendous responsibility to operate services on lifeline routes and provide connectivity for Scotland – operating more flights in Scotland than every other airline put together – and I am wholly confident that Loganair’s independence will be warmly welcomed by both our customers and our dedicated team of professional employees.”
Executive chairman of Flybe, Simon Laffin, said: “Scotland is very important to Flybe, and we want to ensure that we serve our customers there to the highest standards, whilst delivering a return to our shareholders. We shall announce our plans on continuing to serve Scotland in due course. In the meantime our customers can travel and book tickets exactly as before, while any new arrangements will be put in place from September 2017 onwards.”