Loganair’s CEO Jonathan Hinkles has given his views on the future of the UK aviation industry, at the latest Aviation Club event.
Hinkles said that the business travel market would be “changed for good” by the Covid-19 pandemic, with increased “reticence about those long trips away from home that had become a way of life for so many before this virus emerged”.
He warned that “for the likes of consultancy, audit and accountancy, IT, retail and insurance, a significant portion of business has shifted to on-line platforms and it’s going to stay there”.
But Hinkles added that “you can’t build a submarine from home”, with demand from the construction, healthcare and manufacturing industries meaning that “the need for frequency, connectivity and day return capability will be just as important”.
The largest aircraft in Loganair’s fleet is the 70-seater ATR 72-600, compared with Easyjet’s smallest planes which are configured for upwards of 150 seats, and Hinkles said that he expected “far fewer big aeroplanes flying UK domestic routes, particularly between the regions – they simply won’t be able to do this at the frequency levels needed to sustain the markets”.
Hinkles said that he would have laughed “if you’d have said to me at this time last year that Loganair would be operating daily scheduled services to London Heathrow”, but added that “We very much see regional air services offering onward connectivity at Heathrow – linking points such as the Isle of Man and Teesside” as part of the carrier’s future.
Hinkles also highlighted the importance of continued efforts around sustainability and the environment, with the carrier’s engineering base at Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands playing host to electrical and hydrogen-powered flight tests “in the coming weeks after lockdown”.
“I’m sure it will give us a fantastic and early insight into these new technologies, one which we’re confident will stand us in great stead for a sustainable future for Loganair and, more widely, our industry.”