Loganair has made a first foray into Eastern Europe, supporting travel for key workers from Latvia and Poland in the North Sea emergency response industry.
Scotland’s airline has won charter contracts with two unnamed companies in the sector as COVID-19 continues to devastate scheduled air services.
The contracts, valued at a six figure sum, involve Loganair flying personnel from Riga Airport in Latvia and Gdansk Airport in Poland to and from Aberdeen for shifts on the companies’ response and rescue (ERRV) and supply vessels serving North Sea oil and gas platforms.
Before the current crisis, the emergency response companies flew hundreds of Latvian and Polish seafarers to Aberdeen on a complex series of scheduled services.
The COVID-19 crisis had left crews stranded and unable to return home, until the companies contacted Loganair and asked if they could help.
The result is Loganair this week flew the first Latvian and Polish workers home from Aberdeen on its Embraer Regional Jets and brought the replacement crews to Scotland.
The initial contract runs until mid-May, with possibilities the relationship can continue beyond that date.
Fiona MacLeod, Loganair’s director of charter services, said: “The approach from these companies came right out of the blue. They explained the current crews had been forced to work beyond their allotted month-long shift due to the lack of scheduled flights home and it was imperative that their shift changeover be allowed to go ahead.
“We of course wanted to help, but that was easier said than done. As we delved into the logistics of the service required, we had to engage in negotiations with the Ministry of Transport in Latvia and the Prime Minister’s office in Poland before we secured permission to fly to from Riga and Gdansk.
“That has now been done and we have permission to operate charter flights to and from both airports over the next month, with the obvious hope the arrangement will continue beyond that date whether or not the COVID-19 restrictions continue.
“Loganair has many years’ experience of flying oil and gas workers from Aberdeen to Shetland en route to their North Sea employment on both scheduled and charter flights and we well understand the industry. This latest contract is made possible by our recent acquisition of Embraer jets which greatly extends our range on the European mainland.
“We hope that this contract is just the first of such new work beyond our previous extent of operations.”