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Former Airline Partners To Compete At Sumburgh

by Alastair Hamilton -

For many years, scheduled air services between Shetland and the Scottish mainland have been operated under a franchise agreement between Flybe and Loganair, but that’s about to change. The franchise partners have parted company and, from 1 September, both airlines will offer separate scheduled services.

Flybe has formed an alliance with Eastern Airways, which already operates frequent oil industry charter flights into Sumburgh Airport and Scatsta Airport, in the north of Shetland. Flybe is to offer up to three return flights per day between Sumburgh and Aberdeen. There will be one return flight each day between Sumburgh and Edinburgh and Sumburgh and Glasgow. It’s understood that these routes will generally be operated by a single jet aircraft, which will start and finish its day in Aberdeen.

Glasgow-based Loganair will operate independently for the first time in 24 years, having partnered with British Airways before its association with Flybe. The recent pattern of flights will be maintained, with up to five return services between Sumburgh and Aberdeen, up to three between Sumburgh and Edinburgh, up to two between Sumburgh and Glasgow and up to two between Sumburgh, Kirkwall and Inverness. Loganair also operates a summer service to Bergen, Norway.

Both airlines’ flights will enable connections to other UK routes through the mainland airports they serve, and to international services.

Flybe has a substantial network, serving over 70 destinations in the UK and continental Europe. It also has codeshare agreements with eleven airlines. From either Glasgow or Edinburgh, the options include include Aer Lingus; Air France; Emirates or Virgin Atlantic (from Glasgow) and Etihad (from Edinburgh).

Loganair’s codeshare agreement with British Airways allows worldwide flight bookings, using the BA website, from Shetland to anywhere served by British Airways or its codeshare partners (for example, American Airlines from Edinburgh). Shetland also has an international service, Loganair’s summer flights to Bergen.

With many more seats available on the Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh routes, many expect that fares may fall and that demand for travel may increase. Only time will tell whether these routes can support what amounts to a doubling of capacity.

However, Shetland residents who register for the Scottish Government’s Air Discount Scheme already pay just 50% of the basic fare, plus the standard taxes and charges, for non-business flights within Scotland, including the Scottish portion of connecting flights to, say, Heathrow and beyond.

The scheme has made flying from Shetland more affordable and there’s been a steady increase in the number of passengers passing through Sumburgh Airport, which has seen a £6.5m investment in improvements over three years.

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