UK regional airline Loganair has retired the last aircraft of its Saab 340 fleet after 24 years of service, with a VIP send-off of the last flight conducted by the airline.
Flight LM340 –which was named after the iconic aircraft – flew from Kirkwall to Inverness before departing for its last majestic swoop down into Glasgow Airport, following the path of the type’s inaugural flight for the airline.
A workhorse of the skies, and the former mainstay of Loganair’s islands services, the airline’s 18 Saab 340s completed more than 430,000 flights, both passenger and cargo, and carried in excess of 8 million customers over their lifetime. Loganair also flew Dornier D328 units until recently. However, the both types are being replaced by ATR turboprop aircraft, which are both larger and more efficient, allowing the carrier to transport up to 45% more customers on some routes. There is also a greater availability of pilots licensed to fly the aircraft.
The final Saab 340 flight was flown by Captain Eddie Watt, who is also retiring from the business. A Shetlander, Eddie is Loganair’s longest serving pilot, after joining the airline on 1 October 1996. He is renowned among crews and customers for his commentaries from the cockpit and was joined by his wife Rosemary who was among the passengers on board.
The flight was crewed by Lionel McClean, also completing his last commercial flight before retiring in April, and Nichola Charlish, who is Loganair’s longest-serving cabin crew member in Aberdeen.
LM340 touched down to a salute by water cannons, and a piper on the tarmac, before taxiing into Loganair’s hangar at Glasgow Airport.
Kent Lindgren, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Saab Regional Aircraft, who was on board the flight, said: “Loganair has been a valued customer and operator of Saab regional aircraft for a quarter of a century. Professional operators are essential to any aircraft’s success, and Loganair really stepped up to form an important part of the Saab 340 and 2000 community. Flying in some of the world’s harshest environments, Loganair’s operation has been of immense value to Saab, both as a testament to the quality of the platforms and for the technical feedback this has given us.
“Saab would like to thank Loganair for 25 years of safe Saab-operations, serving so many Scottish communities and allowing regions and relationships to prosper.”
Jonathan Hinkles, CEO, Loganair, said: “It really is a historic moment for Loganair. The Saab 340s have been essential to our operation of island services over the years, connecting remote communities with the mainland and delivering over 8 million customers along with food, newspapers, pets and mail.
“As someone whose aviation journey was prompted by a strong passion for flying, I am personally very sad to see these aircraft go, but we look forward to introducing our new ATR fleet to our customers who will love the space and comfort they offer.
“Today we celebrate another special retirement with the departure of Captain Eddie Watt after 34 years of service. He has made a remarkable contribution to Loganair, and we wish him well on his next chapter.”
Captain Eddie Watt added: “It is fitting for me that I retire with the aircraft that has been the staple of my career. Piloting the Saab340, I have watched all of Scotland pass underneath me and it’s been an incredible 34 years flying with this beloved aircraft.”