Glasgow-based airline Loganair has announced it its intention to provide discounted children’s travel, to help fill the larger replacement aircraft they will be introducing next year.
The announcement was made at a meeting of Shetland’s external transport forum on Wednesday, with Managing director Jonathan Hinkles revealing that the existing child discount will increase from 33 per cent to 50 per cent on the Sumburgh and Aberdeen route.
The airline will also trial a new scheme in the school holidays at Easter, summer and October on routes connecting Sumburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow which will see over 1,000 seats on offer to children priced at just the air tax.
He said the school holiday scheme could see savings of between £100 and £150 return per child.
It comes as Loganair gets set to introduce new ATR planes on Sumburgh routes to replace its existing smaller Saab 2000 and 340 planes.
Two 70-seat ATR 72-600s will come into play on a number of services at the end of January, with the 50-seat Saab 2000s getting replaced first.
This will provide a “significant increase in our seat capacity,” Hinkles said, including a 44 per cent increase on Sumburgh/Aberdeen routes in 2020 as well as a 74 per cent boost on Sumburgh/Glasgow services.
The replacement of the Saab 2000s and then the 340s will be phased in through to the end of 2022, and the new ATRs should provide a greater reduction in carbon emissions.
Hinkles said the ATRs have the “lowest carbon emissions per passenger of any commercial transport”, with CO2 emissions up to nine times lower than an equivalent journey by ferry.
Emissions are also 30 per cent lower than the existing Saab 340.
Hinkles said there were a “number of areas we have looked at” in terms of filling up the extra seats the ATRs will offer.
The move to make travel cheaper for children was welcomed by councillors on the forum, with Shetland Central member Davie Sandison saying it was a “really welcome development”.
The 50 per cent discount on Sumburgh-Aberdeen fares will be bookable from next week for travel on new bookings from late March.
Hinkles said on average just four per cent of passengers on the flights to and from Aberdeen were children, with the airline looking to increase the affordability for families as a result.
Lerwick councillor Stephen Leask, however, said he was often disappointed by the numbers on the current planes when he flies south.
He questioned whether reducing fares more significantly across the board could be the answer to filing up the new ATRs.
Hinkles said, however, there was a “very fine balance” for a private airline with no subsidy when it came to ticket prices.