Loganair has today (Thursday 12 March) warned that numbers of flights are to be temporarily cut before the end of March as the impact of falling customer numbers due to Coronavirus takes effect.

But the company’s chief executive, Jonathan Hinkles, has pledged that no island community will be left without an air service, given the lifeline nature of many of the routes.

He said: "We recognise that there are unique considerations around Loganair flights being used to deliver island pharmaceutical supplies, fly blood samples to testing laboratories and a host of other dependencies on our services. We will do all that we reasonably can to take these into account when taking decisions around schedule reductions."

In a statement released this lunchtime the company said it had seen a reduction in forward bookings of between 15% and 20% as the severity of the virus outbreak has developed.

Mr Hinkles said: "The trend is visible throughout the Loganair network, and there are no signs of the hoped-for ‘staycation’ effect. The effect at present appears to be short-term and is primarily hitting bookings for the remainder of March and through April and May. 

"We have already taken action to remove around 10% of our planned flights in April and May, amounting to about 700 flights in all, but with a greater deterioration in bookings since those decisions were taken last week, we are now about to embark on a further round of schedule reductions and I am expecting that a further 10% of flights will be cancelled for April and May.  

“We will work to provide as much notice as possible to customers when flight cancellations are made, and an alternative or a refund offered."

The 17 new UK regional routes formerly flown by failed Flybe and due to be taken over by Loganair will go ahead, but with a possible short delay in the launch of some of these routes. Mr Hinkles said that any capacity released from cancelled services would be used to bolster aircraft and aircrew standby capacity for resilience reasons.