PASSENGER numbers increased at regional airports last year despite the tough economic conditions, according to new figures.
Hial, which runs 11 airports across Scotland, handled 1,283,362 passengers, up more than 3% on 2011.
But while the overall figure was up, there were some significant differences in the performance of individual airports under the Hial umbrella.
Sumburgh was the fastest-growing airport with a 13.2% rise in passenger numbers in the 12-month period.
It was followed by Barra, Tiree, Campbeltown and Wick John O’Groats, which all recorded growth of more than 5%.
Inverness, the group’s busiest airport, ended the year with 614,302 passengers, a rise of 3.4% on its 2011 level. Much of the growth stemmed from increased demand for flybe’s Amsterdam service, Hial said.
Islay recorded slight growth of 0.2%.
Passenger numbers fell 0.1% at Kirkwall on Orkney, by 1% at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and 1.6% at Benbecula.
The largest drop was recorded at Dundee with just over 11% fewer passengers last year.
Figures for December show a 4.4% increase in passenger numbers across the Hial operation.
The group handled 94,707 passengers in the final month of last year, compared with 90,674 in December 2011.
Wick John O’Groats was the fastest growing airport, with 91% more passengers as a result of extra air traffic linked to the oil industry. Oil sector charters also helped boost numbers at Sumburgh by more than 40%.
Dundee recorded a drop of almost 53% in December following the withdrawal of scheduled services to Belfast and Birmingham.
Commenting on the overall picture, Hial managing director Inglis Lyon said: “We are very pleased with our growth record in 2012, particularly given the difficult economic conditions of the past year.
“There has been a marked growth in oil-related traffic at Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats, while Inverness has continued to benefit from the success of its Amsterdam service. We believe there is scope to expand the frequency of this service and enhance the global connections available via Amsterdam.
“There is clearly more work to do to attract new services to Dundee and we have been in discussion with a number of carriers. However, given the prevailing economic conditions, it is likely to be some time before we make progress.”