Alongside flag carrier British Airways, and its various low-cost and leisure operators, the UK is kept connected by regional airlines. These smaller carriers provide links for less well-served parts of the country, both between one another and to larger population centers. One such company is Glasgow-based Loganair, which proudly markets itself as ‘Scotland’s airline.’ The carrier turned 60 this year.
The early years
Loganair is a small but important airline in the British Isles, and it has now been part of the furniture in the UK airline industry for six happy decades. It came into existence in February 1962, when the Logan Construction Company established an air charter arm in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital. It began as a small operation, flying a Piper PA-23 Aztec, a design that had just four to six seats.
Loganair plays a vital role today in linking Scottish islands to the mainland, and has even had babies born on these flights. Its island services began in 1967, after it acquired three eight-seat Britten-Norman Islanders to serve the Orkney Islands. Services to the Shetland Islands commenced three years later. The 1960s also saw a relocation of its head office, from Renfrew Airport to Glasgow Airport.
Loganair also spent a 15-year period under the ownership of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). This fostered strong growth between 1968 and 1983, with several new aircraft types coming onboard. These included the Short 360, Fokker F27 ‘Friendship,’ and even jet-powered aircraft in the form of a pair of British Aerospace 146 regional quadjets. Other jetliners continue to serve the carrier today.
A British Airways and Flybe franchisee
Loganair has spent periods of its history as a franchisee of other UK carriers. For example, 1993 saw the airline become a franchisee of British Airways. This agreement lasted until 2008. It aimed to foster better connectivity between the two carriers’ networks, although residents, particularly in the islands, criticized the high fares under the agreement. The partnership lasted for 15 years in total.
Loganair then became a Flybe franchisee in 2008. As had been the case under BA, Loganair’s aircraft sported liveries that reflected its partnership with Flybe. However, this lasted less than a decade, with Loganair announcing in November 2016 that the agreement would terminate the following August.
Since exiting its partnership with Flybe in 2017, Loganair has now been operating on an independent basis for half a decade. Flybe’s eventual collapse in March 2020, just before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, allowed the airline to make additions to its network, taking on several British domestic routes.
Despite this expansion, Loganair hasn’t forgotten its roots, and retains its focus on connecting Scotland’s islands, serving the Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles. Of course, this includes the world’s shortest regular commercial flight, between Westray and Papa Westray: a journey of just two minutes!
Interestingly, Flybe hasn’t been the only airline in recent years whose collapse has opened the door for Loganair to serve new routes. Indeed, when FlyBMI folded in 2019, the Scottish regional carrier was able to begin serving destinations as far afield as Brussels, Esbjerg (Denmark), Oslo, and Stavanger (Norway) as a result. It also took over FlyBMI’s route between City of Derry and London Stansted.
In terms of Loganair’s present fleet, data from ch-aviation.com shows that it currently has 43 aircraft. These are relatively old, with an average age of 22.2 years. Six of these planes are specialist cargo aircraft from Saab (two 340Fs) and ATR (four 72-500Fs). Meanwhile, ATR42s and 72s, Embraer ERJ135s and 145s, DHC-6 Twin Otters, and Saab 340Bs do the honors on its passenger services.
60 not out
202 has been a particularly special year for Loganair, as February saw it celebrate its 60th anniversary. After six decades of operations, the airline reported at the time that it now serves 70 routes, including 34 different UK airports. It celebrated the anniversary by serving commemorative chocolates to its passengers on February 1st. Going forward, it will replace its Saab 340s with newer ATR turboprops.
What do you make of Loganair and its history? Have you ever flown with ‘Scotland’s airline’? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!
Sources: ch-aviation.com, Loganair