The UK-based aviation service provider has won a contract with Loganair and is looking to further expand its portfolio in the future, writes Justin Burns
The ground handling sector in Scotland will soon have a new operator after Stobart Aviation Services was awarded a passenger and ramp handling contract with Loganair for its flights at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.
The expansion represents a big win for Stobart which is increasing its market presence across the UK and it has signed a five-year deal with the Scottish regional carrier.
Stobart will expand its operations into Scotland by taking on 70 new staff members as it establishes handling units for Loganair’s growing network at the two busiest airports in Scotland.
The handler takes over from Menzies Aviation at both airports for the airline and the first
flight it will handle for will be on 16 March. Loganair says the new partnership will support its growth plans as it continues to grow its route network.
As part of the agreement and move, Stobart will also invest in £1 million in ground handling equipment – including new Aviramp ramps which will be introduced at both airports to aid boarding and disembarkation, particularly for customers with reduced mobility and those with small children and infants.
Stobart’s customer-facing staff will also wear Loganair uniforms as it gears up to handle more than 500 Loganair arrivals and departures each week at the two airports.
Graeme Undy, managing director of Stobart Aviation Services, who is responsible for the company’s ground handling business says: “We are following the strategy that we set out for the business two years ago and the strategy was to partner with airlines that we could explore growth with and to provide alternative solutions for ground handling.”
Undy says Stobart is looking to provide and offer airlines with “something different” in ground handling through the use of cutting-edge technology, and innovative solutions.
He says it will focus on reducing any waste from Loganair aircraft turnarounds but it will be working on improving all airside areas in harmony with the carrier’s plans.
“We entered the ground handling market at Stansted in 2018 and are proud of how we’ve been able to demonstrate Stobart standards and use real-time technology and innovation to deliver quality services to our clients,” he says. “Our expansion into Scotland in this new arrangement with Loganair will bring these standards to more and more customers in 2019.”
Ryanair onboard and more targeted
The new ground handling stations at Edinburgh and Glasgow for Loganair is not the only major contract win and development at Stobart as it will soon start another big operation in April when it begins handling services for Ryanair at London Southend Airport.
The Irish low-cost carrier (LCC) and Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers will open a new station and base three Boeing 737 aircraft at the Essex gateway and operate 13 new routes to eight countries on the European continent.
Stobart will provide handling for Ryanair’s 55 weekly flights to Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Italy and the LCC expects to fly one million passengers through the airport.
The Loganair win in Scotland and the Ryanair contract at London Southend add to Stobart’s growing ground handling portfolio in the UK as it already handles for easyJet at London Stansted Airport and easyJet, Air Malta, Volotea and Flybe at London Southend.
Undy says it the next few months will be busy as it transitions to operate both but Stobart is certainly not finished there and they are both just the start it seems, as Stobart is seeking to further grow its footprint in the UK ground handling market this year and beyond.
“We are talking to other airlines and hope we can announce a few more soon and hope we are successful in these tenders,” Undy says. “We are constantly talking to airlines about handling and are always participating in tenders with airlines. The plan is to continue growing our portfolio and to also grow at Edinburgh and Glasgow airports.”
Stobart Aviation Services is certainly well-positioned to expand as the Stobart Group of which it is a division of, owns ever-growing London Southend, where passenger traffic continues to grow strongly.
Figures for 2018 have yet to be revealed, but in the first half of 2018 traffic was up 37 per cent while in 2017 the airport welcomed 1.1 million passengers and Stobart Group is targeting the five million mark by 2022 so more airlines are set to fly from the airport.
“It is exciting times and the team is energised and we have employed more people to the team and we continue to develop our stations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stansted and Southend,” Undy says.
The next few months and years look set to be both challenging and exciting times for Stobart Aviation Services as it expands and develops its ground handling portfolio and services at stations across the UK.