Loganair is to take over at least six routes previously operated by flybmi, which collapsed last weekend leaving passengers stranded across Europe. The Scottish carrier pick up services from Aberdeen to Bristol, and Bristol to Oslo and Esbjerg, from March 4. It will add links from Newcastle to Stavanger and Brussels on March 25.
Two of flybmi's Embraer jets were transferred to Loganair last year. (The Aviation Oracle)
On February 21, it was announced that Loganair will also take on the government-subsidised twice-daily route between London Stansted and Londonderry in Northern Ireland from February 27. John Boyle, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council described the award of the operation to Loganair as a "very positive outcome" for the airport. He continued: "Securing a replacement operator for this important route within such a short period of time is testament to the commitment of council, the airport and the Department for Transport to ensure there is air connectivity between Derry and London."
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling added: "It is a testament to the hard work of Derry and Strabane Council, the City of Derry Airport and my department that we have been able to secure a replacement airline so quickly."
Jonathan Hinkles, managing director of Loganair said: "We’re extremely pleased to be selected to operate the essential Derry to Stansted air service following completion of a competitive tender process. I know the news about flybmi created great uncertainty, so we’re focused on recommencing operations as quickly as possible."
flybmi shut down on February 16, citing rising fuel costs and Brexit uncertainty as causes of its losses. It operated 17 Embraer regional jets on 25 routes across Europe. The airline had been struggling for some time, had received cash injections from its owners, and was seen as particularly vulnerable to a 'no deal' Brexit due to the range of intra-European services it flew. Passengers who had booked tickets with the carrier were advised to contact their credit card issuers or travel agents to obtain refunds.
Editorial opinion: The collapse of an airline is always difficult for employees and passengers. When flybmi ceased operating, Jonathan Hinkles. Loganair’s managing director said: "It’s always really sad to see an airline go out of business, and our thoughts are with all those affected – particularly staff members. We are evaluating Flybmi’s wider network and assessing routes which align with Loganair’s distinct geographical area and overall strategic plans. We are also working on employment opportunities for pilots, cabin crew and engineering support staff to strengthen the Loganair team."
It is pleasing to see Loganair step in to resume flights on some of flybmi's routes, as well as taking steps to expedite employee recruitment for its extending portfolio of services. Two of flybmi's Embraer regional jets were transferred to Loganair last year, and others from the flybmi fleet may now follow. Through its association with AIL, Loganair will be aware of the financial performance of flybmi's routes, and will be able to cherry pick only the best leaving others unserved or seeking another operator. The Scottish airline will also receive the PSO subsidy previously allocated to flbmi for the route to Londonderry.
Loganair and flybmi are both owned by the same parent, Airline Investments Limited (AIL). A Loganair spokesperson was keen to clarify, however, that: "Loganair and flybmi... are two completely separate companies with different booking systems. Due to strict rules around data protection, Loganair is unable to access Flybmi’s passenger details or payment information."
There is no suggestion of impropriety, but it is ironic that passengers who held bookings on some flybmi services will now be able to travel with Loganair, and may even fly in former flybmi aircraft operated by ex-flybmi employees. But these customers will have reclaim monies paid to flybmi and buy new tickets from Loganair if they wish to do so, despite both airlines having been part of the same group.
Text © The Aviation Oracle