Scottish airline Loganair slashes losses despite passenger numbers tumbling amid pandemic

Loganair, the Glasgow-headquartered airline, has more than halved its losses despite the pandemic slashing its passenger numbers.

The regional carrier was one of few to fly every day throughout the Covid crisis and lockdowns, but its scheduled service activities were severely restricted.

The airline’s passenger numbers fell from 1.05 million in 2019/20 to 252,259 in 2020/21, while its turnover more than halved from £169 million to £81m.

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Bosses noted that in each case, these were smaller falls than those reported by other UK airlines.

Loganair’s fleet replacement programme with ATR aircraft, the most environmentally efficient regional aircraft, halving emissions per passenger versus the Saab 2000 aircraft they replaced, is well under way.

A combination of “careful cost controls and flexibility to rapidly change its business model in the face of the pandemic” led to its pre-tax loss being cut to £5.6m for the financial year, in comparison to the £12.7m loss before tax reported in 2019/20.

Underlying pre-tax trading losses for the year came in at £1.2m.

Chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said: “Without doubt, the last year has been the most challenging in Loganair’s 59-year history. The fact that we’ve been able to weather the storm is entirely thanks to the dedication and commitment of our people.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of them – and their contribution means that we believe Loganair is in the strongest position of any UK regional airline as we emerge from the pandemic.”

The airline continued to provide essential travel needs for communities in the Scottish islands, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland throughout lockdown. Additionally, two of its aircraft were converted to become air ambulances to support the Scottish Ambulance Service, and its dedicated freighter aircraft flew nightly trips to carry Covid-19 test kits.

Contracts to fly for major energy companies and to carry cargo and mail were also flown without interruption.

The airline said it had worked closely with its employee groups and recognised unions throughout the pandemic. From the start of this September, all Loganair employees returned to full pay.

All of the group’s 42 aircraft are in service, with data from European air traffic control provider Eurocontrol showing that Loganair has consistently been the only major European passenger airline operating more flights in October 2021 than in 2019.

Several UK domestic routes, together with flights to Ireland and Denmark, suspended during the pandemic, have all now been successfully reopened. Flights to Norway from Edinburgh, Newcastle and Shetland are due to resume in summer 2022.

In July 2020, Loganair entered into a new coronavirus loan facility of up to £25m with Clydesdale Bank and its owners committing a separate package of support of £11m over two years. The airline’s cash balance at 31 March 2021 was £19.5m.

Hinkles added: “Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen an amazing team effort to make sure that Loganair not only kept flying, but is now well positioned as life gets back to normal.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the future; although we’ll still see challenges including reduced demand for business travel and concerns about aviation’s impact on the environment, we are confident that we can comprehensively address these with the same agility and team spirit which has served us so incredibly well throughout the pandemic.”

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