(A Loganair jet at Inverness Airport - photographs by Inverness Aviation Photography)

Passenger services using a jet aircraft will return to Stornoway Airport after a gap of more than 10 years.

Island representatives heard from Loganair that a second 49 Embraer 145 jet will be added to Loganair’s fleet in December and will fly the Glasgow-Stornoway route. It will also fly to Benbecula on summer weekends.

A first jet was added to the fleet in October and flies to Scandinavia.

It was back in summer 2002 that BMI announced that it would begin direct flights between Stornoway and Edinburgh with jet aircraft from October that year – these continued until 2007.  These cut the journey time to around 35 minutes.

The Outer Hebrides Consultative Committee heard that a 49-seat Embraer 145 jet will be added to Loganair’s fleet in December and will later start to fly the Glasgow-Stornoway route. It will also fly to Benbecula on summer weekends.  This plane was originally bought by BMI back in 2000.

The Committee also heard that there has been improved punctuality and reliability on the Benbecula –Glasgow route and a 10% growth over the summer since the new Glasgow schedule was introduced.

Loganair are looking at the potential for extra flying in summer 2019 and are evaluating extra Friday – Sunday flights.

Loganair are also looking at an option to swap the under-performing Stornoway-Inverness evening service which has an average of four passengers, for a morning Stornoway-Inverness flight at 07.35am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This should help meet the demand for improved connections to Nairn and Dyce rail services.

There would also be a potential to reinstate two way Inverness-Benbecula morning connection on Tuesdays to Thursdays. It is anticipated that these changes would start by the end of March next year.

Councillor  Uisdean Robertson, Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure who also chairs the Airport Consultative Committee, said: “It is good to see that overall, services are performing well but that Loganair is continuing to look to make improvements in flights and scheduling.

“These services are vital for the people of the Western Isles and for the economy of the Islands. We must all look at how we can achieve the best outcomes for passengers.”

Recently Loganair announced its largest expansion programme at Edinburgh Airport, with four new routes being launched as part of its summer 2019 schedule.  Named last month as European Regional Airline of the Year, Loganair will introduce regular year-round services to the Norwegian cities of Bergen and Stavanger; to the island of Islay; and a seasonal link between Edinburgh and Guernsey.

Bergen, Stavanger and Guernsey will each be operated by the airline’s newly acquired 37-seat Embraer 135 jet, the latest addition to its fleet of 30 aircraft.  A 34-seat Saab 340 will fly the Edinburgh to Islay route – the capital city’s first ever scheduled air link to the Inner Hebrides.   The service will commence on 25 March and will operate up to daily.

Loganair jets are also set to operate the Manchester, Dublin and Bergen flights from Inverness.  

Originally delivered to BMI Regional as G-RJXJ in 2001, the Embraer ERJ 135 was delivered in October 2018 then re-registered as G-SAJB.