Loganair, the vital airlink
Aviation in Scotland has a brave and pioneering heritage, and Loganair is proud to maintain a pioneering spirit that has set the pattern for the airline’s reputation. From modest beginnings Loganair has developed into a regional commuter airline with a comprehensive network of scheduled services, and is now one of the longest established airlines in the United Kingdom. It is the continued support and enthusiasm of the people we serve which has given us the strength to expand, and which is the foundation of our success.
The early years
Loganair began in 1962 as the air taxi service of the Logan Construction Company Ltd, operating a single Piper Aztec from Edinburgh. Almost immediately, it was apparent that there was a demand for scheduled services in addition to the primary role as an air taxi, and as such Loganair’s fleet grew. As the network expanded to take in more remote islands and communities, Loganair’s scheduled network began to emerge.
In 1964 Loganair mounted an inter-island scheduled network in Orkney and a similar network in Shetland commenced in 1970, and the strong association with these island communities continues today. Air ambulance services were established in 1967 covering Coll, Colonsay, Oronsay, Mull and Oban, and Loganair is proud to maintain the relationship with the Scottish Ambulance Service, and to continually provide air ambulance cover with dedicated Britten Norman Islander aircraft at Glasgow, Kirkwall and Lerwick.
Coast to coast and beyond
Under the ownership of the Royal Bank of Scotland between 1968 and 1983, the Loganair network, serving the Highlands and Islands, was assuming its now familiar shape. The growth was spurred by the rationalisation program that British Airways commenced in 1975 with the transfer of ‘thin’ routes to Loganair. Grasping the opportunity, Loganair’s scheduled network grew, and Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles were served comprehensively from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and mainland routes were now firmly established. In 1979, Loganair launched an air service between Glasgow and Derry, with Northern Ireland becoming the focus of expansion, as the stage was now set for the next major step forward – a hub of business routes.
Getting down to business
Firmly established as Scotland’s Airline, new horizons were sought, and in 1980 Loganair took over the Belfast to Edinburgh route from British Airways. In 1981, Loganair faced the might of the flag carrier and competed on the Glasgow to Belfast route, stealthily managing to win market share by transferring its operations to Belfast City Airport. Manchester then became the focus of attention, as Loganair commenced daily services to Edinburgh, Belfast City and Glasgow.
With business traffic representing an ever-increasing proportion of Loganair’s annual passenger carryings, Loganair acquired larger aircraft, the Shorts 360 and Fokker Friendship. In September 1983, the British Midland Group took a controlling interest in Loganair, and riding a wave of success and optimism the time came for Loganair to enter the jet market. The BAe 146-200 jet, known as the ‘Whisper Jet’, was at the forefront of short-haul aircraft technology providing a high level of passenger comfort and load-carrying capacity, and two jets were brought into the fleet to expand the growing network to include services to the Channel Islands and mainland Europe.
The fleet continued to grow with the acquisition of BAe J31, J41, and ATP aircraft, and in the late 1980’s Loganair had a comprehensive schedule and charter network. Loganair became the second busiest airline at Manchester, the dominant carrier at Belfast City airport, and a significant player in the development of scheduled services at Southampton. With aircraft utilisation being such a vital factor, Loganair also secured contracts with the Post Office for the night movement of mail and datapost.
However, the promising eighties gave way to the turbulent nineties, and a reorganisation of the British Midland Group activities in 1994 saw the transfer of Loganair’s cross-border services and associated aircraft to Manx Airlines (Europe). 1994 also saw the significant forging of a relationship between Loganair and British Airways in Scotland, as Loganair became British Airways' second franchise operator, with the residual Scottish internal routes being flown in British Airways livery, but with the same professionalism that typifies the Loganair operation. Whilst still under the ownership of the British Midland Group, a further transfer of the main internal Scottish services took place in 1996.
The route network and operations that were left under the control of Loganair were subject to a management buy-out, led by Scott Grier, OBE in 1997. With one De Havilland Twin Otter and five Britten Norman Islanders, the company found strength in its origins and its pioneering spirit, and dedicated itself to the provision of air services in Orkney, Shetland and to the West coast of Scotland.
From these small beginnings, and under the control of Loganair's loyal management, the company has seen the fleet grow with the introduction of the pressurised Saab 340 aircraft. The airline's growth has stemmed from the rightful return of the Scottish internal routes to Loganair's ownership, and from a steady and watchful eye on new opportunities. March 2004 saw a transfer of routes and aircraft from British Airways CitiExpress with Loganair now operating the Glasgow to Benbecula, Stornoway, Shetland and Isle of Man routes, as well as Shetland to Aberdeen.
A New Partnership
Saab 340 in Flybe Colours
After a 14 year franchise association with British Airways, Loganair forged a new franchise partnership with Europe's largest regional carrier, Flybe, in July 2008. The long association with BA continues however, via a codeshare arrangement, with Loganair's flights marketed as connecting BA flights to London and beyond, but its niche markets and regional strength now benefit from the Flybe brand expanding into the Highlands and Islands, allowing its loyal Scottish passengers the benefit of regional connections and a seamless service with the ever expanding Flybe regional airline and their codeshare partners. The new franchise also heralded a welcome return to Dundee airport, as Scotland's Airline returned to the place where it all began in 1962, and the new look Loganair launched two Flybe services to Birmingham and Belfast City.
50 years of service
In 2012, Loganair celebrates its 50th anniversary of providing quality air service to its home markets in Scotland, as well as its expanding network in Ireland and England. New services between Donegal and Dublin commenced in November 2011 under a PSO award from the Irish Government, and new gateways in England linking Norwich to Manchester, Exeter, Southampton and the Isle of Man, and also Newquay to Glasgow, are welcoming the arrival of Loganair in 2012.
The airline’s unique pattern of operation and current success is based on the skill and dedication of the professionals who have been involved in the services for many years. Loganair looks forward with confidence to the future as it continues to provide the lifeline community services and develops further the business routes, which have enabled Loganair to stake its claim as an independent airline of significance. Loganair is not an ‘overnight’ success; it is the product of years of work and dedication. The qualities, which have brought the company this far – skill, service, enthusiasm – shall ensure Loganair’s future.