THE chief executive of Loganair has stepped down with immediate effect.

Jonathan Hinkles, who had led the Glasgow-based airline since 2016, announced the surprise news with a post on professional networking site LinkedIn.

Mr Hinkles, who was in his second spell with the airline, having re-joined after a four-year stint with Virgin Atlantic, said: “I’ve always thought that when the curtain falls, it’s time to get off the stage right away. Earlier this afternoon and with the full agreement of Loganair’s board, I relinquished my responsibilities as Loganair’s chief executive and accountable manager.

“Running an airline is probably the most full-time job imaginable, and one which requires pretty much 24/7 attention in one shape or form.

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“Checking the freighter crews are away for their night’s work before going to bed; checking again straight after the morning alarm whether the first wave of the new day’s flights is up and away, how ticket sales fared yesterday, reading through safety reports, and getting up to speed on key issues is a daily routine, seven days a week, even when on holiday. It truly takes its toll.

“And so, after seven and a half years – a tenure longer than any other UK airline CEO bar one and also one of the longer-serving CEOs in Loganair’s proud 62-year history - it’s time for a change, just as much for me as it is for Loganair. It serves no-one well for there to be a prolonged period of farewells, uncertainty and indecision in leadership. With all that in mind, I left the building for the final time a few hours ago.”

Mr Hinkles’ departure came as Loganair officially retired its Saab 340 fleet after more than 24 years of service.

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The airline’s 18 Saab 340s completed more than 430,000 flights, passenger and cargo, and carried in excess of eight million customers over their lifetimes.

Mr Hinkles added: “Over the last couple of days, it’s been a real pleasure to participate in the send-off for both Captain Eddie Watt – Loganair’s longest-serving pilot – and the Saab 340 aircraft which have served us and our customers so well for 24 years.

“With a new fleet falling into place, Loganair and my trusted colleagues are well set for the future. And as I signed off from the privilege of leading that team a short time ago, I’ve reiterated my firm belief that the future is theirs to grasp; theirs to own; and theirs to make the most of.”