Loganair Makes Request For Flybe Heathrow Slots
Loganair began flying between Heathrow and the Isle of Man in 2021, using slots temporarily freed up by other carriers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
LONDON—Scottish regional carrier Loganair has requested seven London Heathrow slots pairs, currently held by regional airline Flybe, from UK slot coordinator Airport Coordination Limited (ACL).
Loganair began flying between Heathrow and the Isle of Man in 2021, using slots temporarily freed up by other carriers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This single slot pair has now been permanently allocated to Loganair, with grandfather rights, for summer 2023.
Speaking to Aviation Daily on the sidelines of an Aviation Club lunch in London on Feb. 7, Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles said he requested Flybe’s seven Heathrow slot pairs as soon as he heard that Flybe had halted operations, at 5:15 a.m. on Jan. 29.
“We were the first to apply,” he said. “Nobody else had applied before us at that point.” However, Flybe’s affairs are currently in the hands of administrators, so the slots have not yet been returned to the slot pool.
Loganair would use the slots for UK connectivity, moving its established 3X-daily City of Derry-London Stansted flights to Heathrow.
“We believe that they should continue to be reserved for domestic access to Heathrow, perhaps more widely than the original stipulations of Aberdeen and Edinburgh. But access to our national hub for regional air services is really critical to the future,” Hinkles said.
He added that the Flybe slots should be preserved for domestic connectivity, arguing that it is “simply unacceptable” that Heathrow slots should be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
When asked whether Loganair would be interested in acquiring any of the remnants of Flybe, Hinkles replied: “No.”
“Unlike the first time, we haven’t gone rushing in to fill the gaps left by the collapse of Flybe,” Hinckles said. “There’s a very simple reason for that. We don’t actually think there were any gaps in the market that Flybe the 2nd filled—and in my view, that’s actually why it failed.”
Loganair itself is going through two big transitions, in terms of fleet and ownership. By July-August 2023, the Scottish regional will phase out its last five Saab 340s, replacing them with five additional ATRs.
Currently, Loganair operates two Britten-Norman Islanders, three De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters, the five Saab 340s, 13 Embraer ERJ-145s, five ATR 42-500s, two ATR 42-600s, four ATR 72-600s and four ATR 72-500 freighters. The ATR fleet will grow to 20 aircraft following the Saab retirement.
Two of the additional ATRs are being sourced from Latin American operators and Loganair is finalizing contracts with lessors on the remaining three aircraft. This will be sufficient passenger capacity for Loganair for the foreseeable future.
However, Hinkles sees potential cargo expansion for Loganair and he “wouldn’t be surprised” to see further dedicated ATR freighters joining the fleet before the end of the year. One more Islander is also under consideration.
Loganair is also on the market, following a decision by sole owners Stephen and Peter Bond to sell the Glasgow-based company. Stephen Bond is now 72 and has decided to step back from the airline’s day-to-day business. “That process of finding new owners is well on track, and we hope to have news on that later this year,” Hinkles said.
For the financial year ended March 2022, Loganair posted a £7.2 million ($8.7 million) net profit on revenues of £161.6 million, compared with a net loss of £5 million in the previous year.
This article was originally published on aviationweek.com.