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Loganair celebrates 50th birthday of lifeline Orkney air service

Posted 27 September 2017 · Add Comment

Scotland's airline Loganair today celebrated half a century of serving the people of Orkney.

Copyright: Loganair

Operated by Loganair since 1967, the Orkney Inter-Isles Air Service connects the Orkney mainland with six outer islands, and includes the 1.7mile hop between Westray and Papa Westray, officially recognised by Guinness as the world’s shortest flight.

Internal flights to the six outer isles - Eday, North Ronaldsay, Papa Westray, Sanday, Stronsay and Westray - are operated under a Public Service Obligation (PSO) contract awarded by Orkney Islands Council.

Loganair has provided the service since it began in 1967, and was awarded a new four-year contract in a competitive tender against stiff opposition from two rivals earlier this year. The new contract runs until March 31, 2021, with an option for a further 12-month extension.

Last October saw the milestone passed of the millionth passenger carried by the service.

Today’s celebrations were made up of two events.

The first saw a gold-coloured Islander, brought to Orkney by manufacturers Britten-Norman to specially mark the occasion, fly a party including Loganair’s president Scott Grier and managing director Jonathan Hinkles, Orkney Islands Council convener Harvey Johnston and director of development and infrastructure Gavin Barr and Britten-Norman CEO Willian Hynet around the Orkney network.

The eight-passenger Islander in its various models has been the aircraft used throughout the last 50 years.

A plaque commemorating the 50th birthday was presented to managers at each of the seven airports, including Linda Hagan at Westray, whose father Jack Scott carried out the same job for many years after the Inter-Isles service began.

At Sanday, a new airfield terminal building was officially opened by Council convener Johnston.

The new building will provide improved, fit-for purpose waiting room space for passengers flying to and from the island, as well as a new garage facility for the airfield’s fire tender. It is the latest in an ongoing programme of improvements to Orkney’s council-owned airfields.

The other event, to which the public was invited, was a celebration at Kirkwall airport with performances from Orkney musicians and a display of artwork by local schoolchildren, who had been invited to create pieces around the theme of Orkney in the Sky - past, present and future.

Two Loganair and Orkney Islands Council workers who have served throughout the entire 50-year period of the Inter-Isles Service were specially honoured – Kirkwall engineer Bryan Sutherland and Sanday airfield superintendent Jim Lennie.

Loganair’s managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “The Orkney Inter-Isles Service is a jewel in our network and famous across the world. However, despite its fame, it’s also an essential life-line service for the people of Orkney, connecting the individual islands via a convenient air-link.

“It’s used by teachers, doctors, policemen school pupils and many others, helping them to go about their daily routines with ease and simplicity. We’re proud to have been operating the service on behalf of Orkney Island Council for five decades, and reaching today’s half-century milestone is a testament to the hard work of the Loganair and Council teams past and present.”

Orkney Islands Council’s Convener Councillor Harvey Johnston said: “The introduction of the Inter-Isles Air Service in 1967 transformed the lives of folk living on our outer isles. Over the last 50 years the distinctive sound of the Britten-Norman Islander’s engines has become an iconic harbinger of such as the arrival of a loved one, that essential spare part or the critical departure of a medical emergency. “I congratulate Loganair on their dependable and reliable long service and look forward to many more years of our vital inter-island air service.”

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