Loganair has made a first foray into Eastern Europe to support 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 contract involves 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.
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 is worth a six-figure sum and 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.”