Record year for Highland and Islands Airports

Passenger numbers rose at Barra Airport

Scotland’s Highland and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) said it handled more passengers than ever in the last financial year.

HIAL said it handled 1,437,625 passengers in 2015-16 — an increase of 6,000 on the previous year.

The company operates 11 of Scotland’s regional airports at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Islay, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick.

Inverness Airport added more than 13,000 passengers during the year.

Some small island airports such as Tiree and Barra also had a good year with passenger numbers up 12% and 10.7% respectively.

Dundee, where Flybe will soon launch a new service to Amsterdam, also performed well.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL, said: “This has been a good year for HIAL’s airports.

“Despite the downturn in the energy sector, a key market for HIAL, passenger numbers increased during the year.

“Our smaller island airports performed extremely well, as did Inverness and Dundee, both of which will see expansion in the coming months as a result of new routes.

“We have worked hard to improve connectivity across our group, with new aircraft serving the communities of Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown and new air services due to launch at Inverness and Dundee.

“As a result of our strengthening route network, regional Scotland is now better connected than ever before.”

However, figures for the first quarter of 2016 show a fall in passenger numbers across HIAL, a result of the downturn in energy sector traffic at Wick John O’Groats and Sumburgh airports.

The loss of Flybe’s Inverness to London City service has also hurt business.

Nonetheless, there is still optimism for the current financial at Inverness as easyJet plans to expand and British Airways and KLM plan to launch new flights to Heathrow and Amsterdam respectively.

Holiday airlines Thomson and First Choice also plan new summer flights to Majorca in 2017.

Highland and Islands Airports Ltd is a public corporation “wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers.”

HIAL’s airports are vital to the local economies they serve — but are loss making — and are supported by subsidies from the Scottish Government.