Loganair’s green dream for the isles
Loganair hopes to bring sweeping environmental changes to Orkney’s inter-island service, after winning the contract to run the lifeline flights for at least four more years.
This is according to the airline’s chief executive, Jonathan Hinkles, who spoke of plans for low-carbon technology, after it was announced that Orkney Islands Council had awarded the Public Service Obligation (PSO) contract.
Loganair has been serving the isles since 1967. At present, two Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, based at Kirkwall, fly the routes, carrying around 20,000 customers every year.
During the new contract, the airline has said it fully expects to convert the aircraft to use low-carbon propulsion to replace the same type of conventional piston engine which has powered the services for over 50 years.
Loganair is a key participant in several projects to bring low or zero-carbon technology to commercial air transport, and will be supporting flight trials of two separate programmes — hydrogen-powered and electrically-powered aircraft — at its base in the Orkney Islands in the first half of 2021.
It is the only UK regional airline invited to participate in the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council initiatives to de-carbonise future air travel.
Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “We’re delighted and privileged to have been chosen to deliver Orkney’s essential inter-island air services for a further four years.
“It’s a vital service for the prosperity of the North Isles, and our ability to retain this contract is entirely due to the experience and hard work of our dedicated team in Kirkwall.
“The four-year contract award provides us with certainty on which to plan for the future — whether that be the transition to new low or zero-carbon technology or in the recruitment and training of staff in Orkney to work on the inter-isles operation.
“The North Isles services are a key part of Loganair’s DNA, and, despite our expansion as an airline, we remain today as committed as ever to serving the communities of Orkney.”
Although the world’s shortest scheduled flight — two minutes between Westray and Papa Westray — is one of the islands’ tourist attractions in its own right, Orkney’s inter-island service fulfils a year-round critical role in the delivery of education, healthcare, mail and other essential services to Orkney’s North Isles.
The new contract, won following a competitive tender process, will run for four years from April 1, 2021, securing the employment of ten pilots, engineers and ground staff dedicated to the services at Loganair’s Kirkwall base. Loganair has recruited and trained engineers locally to take over from retiring long-serving members of its team and is committed to continuing this policy of local investment in Orkney wherever it possibly can.
Responding to the news, the chairman of OIC’s development and infrastructure committee, Councillor Graham Sinclair, said: “Communities in our North Isles have been served by Loganair for more than half a century and now, following a competitive tendering process, the airline has been awarded the four-year contract once again.
“In these ever-challenging times, with uncertainty around every corner, I am sure the continuity of service will be welcomed by residents.
“I also welcome Loganair’s future plans which include conversion to use of low-carbon propulsion, which can only but assist with our attempts to reduce our carbon footprint.”