Rebranding of Suckling Airways as ScotAirways

In 1999, when Suckling Aviation started expanding its services and adding new destinations to its network, the Scottish businessman Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag decided to invest £5 million into the company. They bought as much as 90 percent of the company (in stakes) but they left the Suckling spouses as the airline’s managers, working from the company’s headquarters in Cambridge. Souter, on the other hand, appointed himself the chairman of the airline and rebranded it as ScotAirways.

New Name and New Programme

When Souter and Gloag took over, the airline didn’t only get a new name. It also got a new programme. And a quite far reaching one too. The future looked bright and at the end of the 20th century, the former Suckling Aviation had over 100,000 passengers. Determined to further expand the airline’s services, Souter and Gloag approved new destinations which besides the existing ones also included Paris, Inverness and Aberdeen, all being served from its new base in London City. The Dutch capital of Amsterdam, on the other hand, was served from Southampton and Inverness.

Crisis and Recovery

The 9/11 Attacks seriously hit the aviation industry around the world, including the UK. Not a single airline was unaffected and ScotAirways was no exception. On the contrary, it found itself in a very difficult situation and the newly launched expansion programme had to be interrupted in order for the airline to stay in business. Many of the new destinations were terminated, some in mere weeks after being launched. But it worked. ScotAirways didn’t only survive the crisis but it almost completely recovered. In 2004, it recorded the first profit after suffering losses for a number of years in a row. In addition, the number of passengers was nearly twice as high as 1999 even though it flew only on three routes.

About Sir Brian Souter

Sir Brian Souter (1954) is a very influential Scottish businessman who is also known for his philanthropic activities, mostly through the Souter Charitable Trust. However, he is best known as the founder of the Stagecoach Group, Megabus and Souter Holdings Ltd, although many people also remember him for his political activities which caused quite a lot of controversy. In the early 2000s, Souter financed the so-called Keep the Clause campaign to prevent the withdrawal of the Section 2A of the Local Government Act, according to which the local authorities were banned from promoting homosexuality. Due to his support to the campaign, many people labelled him as a homophobe.