Record year at Highlands and Islands Airports

Barra Airport

A record number of people used Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) airports in 2017, with the group reporting 1,722,913 journeys during the year.

The 2017 figures were up 102,577 or 6.3% on 2016’s total of 1,620,336 people.

Highlights included a 6.3% increase at Inverness and an 18.9% jump in passenger numbers at Barra Airport which had 14,264 passengers using its beach runway in 2017.

Sumburgh, which serves the Shetlands and the North Sea oil and gas industry, recorded a rise of 13.9% to 386,039 – up 46,948 – continuing the growth it has enjoyed since HIAL refurbished the airport and improved facilities for offshore workers.

Orkney’s Kirkwall Airport saw passenger numbers increase 9.2% to 195,544 from 179,140 in 2016 and Stornoway also saw increased demand with passenger numbers up 4% to 137,103.

Tiree, Campbeltown, Benbecula and Islay all reported increases year-on-year.

Passenger numbers were down 16,029 at Dundee as a result of the withdrawal of the Flybe Amsterdam service by the operator in December 2016.

Figures also decreased at Wick by 7,871, due in part to reduced demand from energy sector services to-and-from Aberdeen and offshore platforms.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said the performance of the airports was encouraging and demonstrated the growing demand for regional airport services.

Lyon said: “These figures indicate a positive economic outlook for the regions.

“This illustrates the continuing need for strategic investment across the HIAL operating area.

“We are working with our colleagues in Transport Scotland to deliver a regional airports network that can grow passenger numbers and has long-term sustainability.

“We continue to see the benefits to passengers of increased connectivity that our airports deliver for the communities they serve.

“We are pleased that the increased numbers at Inverness which has seen strong numbers on the international connecting flights to Amsterdam, Heathrow, Gatwick and Dublin.

“Sumburgh is performing well on the back of an improving oil and gas industry and our other island airports have also seen encouraging passenger increases.”