Island air fare

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I have a number of observations in response to Martin McLaughlin’s opinion piece, “Why must air travel be out of reach luxury for island Scots?” (Perspective, 30 June), in which he asserts that HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports Limited) should “review its hefty charges” in order to help reduce island air fares.

The first point to make is that HIAL plays no part in setting ticket prices; that is entirely a matter for individual airlines based on a range of commercial and operational factors. We do, however, work hard to ensure that our airport costs are kept as low as possible for our airline partners.

Second, HIAL’s charges account for a very small proportion of overall airline costs and, in any case, our published tariffs are often subject to discounts. Airlines also receive considerable marketing support from HIAL.

Third, HIAL operates at a commercial loss in order to aid route development and maintain lifeline links. We do so because we recognise the enormous value of these routes for island communities.