Highlands and Islands Airports passengers rise to 1.5m

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) has announced a 3.5% year-on-year increase in passenger numbers for 2023-24 across its network of airports, bringing the total number of passengers to almost 1.5 million.

HIAL is a private limited company owned by the Scottish Ministers. It is responsible for the management and operation of 11 regional airports serving some of the Scotland’s remotest communities at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick John O’Groats.

A total of 1,476, 547 passengers used HIAL airports in 2023-24, an increase of 49,371.

At Inverness Airport, passenger numbers rose 5.6% to 792,150. At Wick John O’Groats airport, figures were up by 22.2% to 11,224 passengers, with increases of over 15% to 7,734 at Campbeltown and 7.9% to 29,919 at Islay.

Kirkwall rose 5% to 134,250, Stornoway increased 1.1% to 105,007, Sumburgh rose 0.9% to 307,664 and Tiree increased 4.9% to 12,169.

Barra declined 3% to 12,536, Benbecula fell 4.7% t0 29,884 and Dundee declined 17.3% to 34,002.

HIAL CEO Paul Kelsall said: “I’m encouraged that despite the challenging economic climate we have continued to build on the strong passenger figures of 2022/2023, which remain on track for a steady return to pre-pandemic levels.

“We have invested to maintain our infrastructure and ensure the longevity of our airports for years to come. This includes a £5m project to upgrade the two runways at Islay and £9m in new energy efficient runway lighting at Inverness and Kirkwall airports.

“Additionally, £5.3m was invested in a Coastal Protection Project at Stornoway to protect the airport infrastructure and surrounding area from erosion.

“In 2023, we welcomed the introduction of flights connecting Dundee, Orkney & Shetland with London Heathrow providing our island communities with access to a key international hub.

“I look forward to working together with colleagues to delivering the high level of service that HIAL’s customers expect.”