Loganair returns to profit in first full year of flying solo

The Embraer jet aircraft has been introduced to the fleet.
The Embraer jet aircraft has been introduced to the fleet.

Loganair today (Thursday) reported a pre-tax profit of £1.01m for the 12 months ended March 31 2019 - its first full year of operation under its own brand as Scotland’s Airline.

There was record turnover of £119.85m, up 8.3% on the previous year’s figure of £110.65m.

The pre-tax profit is reported after non-recurring costs of £3.07m related to the introduction of Embraer jet aircraft to the fleet and the associated significant expansion of Loganair’s fleet to 43 aircraft during the first quarter of this year.

With this expansion, Loganair has now become the UK’s fifth largest airline measured by number of flights operated.

It is a welcome return to the black after the previous year’s loss, which reflected the cost of creating an airline from scratch due to the break-up of Loganair’s franchise agreement with Flybe and subsequent damaging and unsustainable competition on key routes from its previous partner.

In October 2018, Loganair’s remarkable progress saw it win regional aviation’s highest accolade - the European Regional Airline Association’s award for Airline of the Year, voted for by a panel of industry experts.

In February 2019, fellow UK regional airline bmi Regional ceased trading, and Loganair’s operation immediately grew in scope by recruiting 140 of its pilots, cabin crew and engineers - as well as expanding the fleet by acquiring many of its Embraer jet aircraft.

The increased range of the jet aircraft has facilitated growth further afield for Loganair, with new services from Scotland to Germany, Norway and Denmark and from Newcastle to Belgium and Norway being launched in recent months.

Operating from its Glasgow Airport headquarters and with 10 further operating bases in Scotland and England, Loganair now has 840 staff - its largest-ever complement.

Statutory reports indicate that Loganair has the strongest gender pay performance of any UK airline and continues to have the highest proportion of female pilots in the UK.

Managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “We have every reason to be proud of our achievements in the last year, growing our routes in the UK and Europe, expanding staff numbers and expanding our fleet.”

“In addition to new scheduled routes during the year, we also won a new contract to provide services for British Airways’ CityFlyer subsidiary, took over the operation of a corporate shuttle service for a major aircraft manufacturer linking its production sites and won a competitive tender to provide essential air services between the City of Derry and London.”

“We have also expanded our codeshare and interline agreements with such major international airlines as British Airways, Turkish Airways, Emirates Airline, KLM, Air France and Qatar Airways, bringing benefits to customers who can fly with a single ticket between our destinations in the Highlands & Islands and hundreds of major cities worldwide.”

“But most importantly of all, we have done this while looking after our customers - as can be seen by our second top places in both the UK domestic airline punctuality league table and UK airline customer review ratings.”

Hinkles sounded notes of caution on three challenges affecting the aviation industry - the advent of aggressive no-win no-fee agencies who are trying to extend eligibility of EU261 customer compensation claims for flight delays and cancellations to those affected by adverse weather; the five-fold rise in cost of EU Emissions Trading Carbon Permits – effectively a tax on aviation fuel which adds over £1m to Loganair customers’ ticket prices each year on top of the highest air travel tax in Europe (Air Passenger Duty); and an industry-wide shortage of pilots.

Despite these challenges, the airline has pressed forward with expansion plans in the early part of the new financial year, launching new services to London Southend Airport from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Stornoway and the first commercial air services from Carlisle Lake District Airport in over 25 years.