The north-east is getting moving again, with a range of transport services set to increase from next week.
Air and bus travel will increase from Monday, giving residents in the region more flexibility for travelling abroad, and more frequent services for getting out and about at home.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has announced it will be increasing flights from Aberdeen International Airport to Amsterdam, operating three flights a day, instead of two, to the Dutch capital from Monday, and to four a day by the end of August.
It will also allow Scottish passengers to transfer at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, which operates flights to numerous destinations all over the world.
Roger HuntRoger Hunt, interim managing director of Aberdeen International Airport, said: “It is another positive step for us as we warmly welcome KLM’s decision to further increase flights at Aberdeen International Airport.
“After a number of really challenging months and with lockdown beginning to show signs of easing, it is reassuring to see a number of routes restarting and frequencies increasing from Aberdeen.
“As the traffic slowly builds we have also increased our focus on maintaining public safety and that of our staff through the introduction of a series of enhanced safety measures. Bringing back business safely remains a key priority.”
Face coverings are mandatory for both passengers and crew throughout the flight, and new aircraft cleaning procedures have been introduced including disinfecting all surfaces in contact with customers.
In addition, the air in the cabin is renewed every three minutes.
KLM said it was a “positive sign of recovery” that more routes were beginning to operate after many were grounded to a halt in the past few months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Benedicte Duval, general manager for Air France KLM in the UK and Ireland, said: “Our decision to increase the frequency on our Aberdeen to Amsterdam service to four flights per day by the end of August is a positive sign of recovery, after what has been and still is a challenging time for our industry.
“KLM continued to operate a skeleton service to and from Aberdeen throughout the corona crisis, assisting the local community with essential travel and repatriation. As travel restrictions in Scotland begin to ease, we are increasing capacity in line with consumer demand.”
Meanwhile at home, both First Bus and Stagecoach have confirmed that service frequencies will be increased.
First Aberdeen has said it has put a number of measures in place to ensure customer and staff safety is maintained, with timetables able to return closer to normal levels from tomorrow.
Changes will affect most services, with revised departure times.
There will be some increases on weekend services, as well as the frequency in evenings.
The firm carries out an enhanced cleaning regime including the use of anti-viral sanitiser.
Vehicles have also been updated with new layouts and signs to inform customers of the additional seats available on board.
First Aberdeen is encouraging people to return to public transport, and is focusing on improving services where demand has returned.
David Phillips, operations director at First Aberdeen, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming back even more customers over the coming weeks and months as the vast majority of services now begin to operate nearer to pre-Covid timetable levels.
“This means that with social distancing still in place, we will have many more seats available than in recent weeks and services operating at higher frequencies.
“We know that this additional capacity and frequency will be a great relief to some commuters, as well as customers considering their first journeys for leisure purposes.
“We are delighted to play our part in helping to get the local economy moving again.”
For full details on the new timetables, visit bit.ly/2XdNNvU
Meanwhile Stagecoach will also be running more services from Monday.
It has said it will be increasing its offering across Aberdeenshire and Moray ahead of the school bus services resuming, but also to help connect people with workplaces and high streets.
Increases will take place on services such as 7/X7 from Aberdeen to Stonehaven via Portlethen, 10 from Aberdeen to Inverness via Elgin, 35 from Aberdeen to Elgin via Banff, 201 from Aberdeen to Braemar via Banchory and the Buchan area network.
Stagecoach said the increase in services will help to maintain social distancing. It also has a ‘busy bus’ indicator on its mobile app to give people the option to choose quieter services.
Peter Knight, managing director at Stagecoach Bluebird, said: “Our next timetable revision is a significant one as we are preparing to welcome school bus services back to our daily operations.
“We have seen a slight increase in the number of people using our services as lockdown has eased.
“The team at our eight depots across Aberdeenshire and Moray have done a fantastic job of keeping the communities connected throughout lockdown and I know they are all looking forward to getting the buses back out on the road and giving a friendly welcome back on board.”
Additional cleaning is taking place, including at least daily cleaning of all buses with a particular focus on key touch points, a protective screen between the driver and passengers and physical distancing measures in place for seating.
Face coverings are mandatory across all public transport services.
For more information on Stagecoach’s new timetables, visit http://stge.co/Lt2u50AM9PR