DALLAS – London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has welcomed its first new UK airline in nearly three decades thanks to the conflict in Ukraine.
Glasglow-based Loganair (LM), the UK’s largest regional airline, has been given lucrative take-off and landing slots at LHR as a result of sanctions imposed on Russian flag carrier Aeroflot (SU).
The Scottish regional airline is thus the first British airline to operate from the airport since British Mediterranean Airways (KJ) did so in 1994.
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, SU held 70 weekly slot pairs at LHR. As part of western sanctions imposed on Russia, the state-owned airline was stripped of these slot pairs. SU is not permitted to land at UK airports.
February also saw the Russian airline forced to cancel all flights to European destinations after its jets were redirected mid-flight following an EU move to ban all Russian planes entering its airspace.
According to the Evening Standard, Virgin Atlantic (VS) was among those who benefited from the reallocation of SU’s slots and is looking to add more. The transatlantic airline, which began operations at LHR in 1991, announced plans to fly to Tampa and began service to the Florida city last week.
Further, Westjet of Canada, China Airlines, Avianca of Columbia, and Vistara of India all shared in what has been described as a “slots windfall” for airport airlines.
London Heathrow Slots
London Heathrow slots have historically been in high demand. As prized as they are, LHR has a premium secondary slot market that makes the airport unique in the world. In 1999, the UK High Court gave a historic judgment about the question of buying and selling slots and approved a slot deal between British Airways (BA) and KLM (KL).
Once assigned, airlines may sell or lease them to a third party. The highest price paid for a single pair of slots at the airport was US$75m (£66m) in February 2016, when Oman Air (WY) acquired rights to a morning arrival from Air France-KLM.
The LM slot allocation, made by a central coordinator, will benefit the millionaire Bond brothers, who own the Scottish airline and have recently put it up for sale.
Comments from Loganair CEO
Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair’s chief executive, said: “Regional connectivity is the essence of Loganair’s business, and we’re delighted to see the connectivity that we offer will be safeguarded into the future with this new, permanent slot allocation at the UK’s only major hub airport.”
The CEO added, “It’s also hugely encouraging to see the steps which Heathrow has recently taken to encourage this regional connectivity through its fees and charges for 2023, and we’re looking forward to building on this newly-established position.”
Featured image: Loganair G-SAJS Embraer ERJ-145EP. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways