Passenger numbers at Scotland’s regional airports are continuing to show encouraging signs of growth.
Latest figures show that HIAL’s 11 airports handled 126,672 passengers in September, an increase of 11,229 – up 9.7% - on the same month last year.
There was particularly strong growth at Wick John O’Groats – which has more than doubled to almost 4,700 – and Sumburgh, the result of increased energy traffic and growing demand for scheduled passenger services.
Loganair have recently increased capacity between Wick John O’Groats and Edinburgh, and are set to provide more flights between Sumburgh and Glasgow from November.
At Islay, numbers were boosted by an influx of visitors to the Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival. Kirkwall, Inverness and Islay also enjoyed an increase in passenger numbers, with Inverness recording growth on its Amsterdam, Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester routes.
However, numbers were down at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Stornoway and Tiree airports.
Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL said: “These figures are hugely encouraging, not least the boost in summer passenger numbers and the massive increase in demand for the Inverness to Amsterdam route, now in its third year, and still exceeding expectations.
“However, the drop in passenger numbers at many of our smaller airports illustrates that demand is not uniformly strong.
“We have added almost 50,000 extra passengers so far in this financial year which, given the distinct challenges some of our airports face, is particularly encouraging.
“Business and tourism growth is essential for the regional economy of Scotland, particularly in our more remote locations. In recent months, we have secured additional passenger services at Campbeltown, Inverness, Wick John O’Groats and Sumburgh and we are continuing to look at new opportunities for growth throughout the HIAL group.”
HIAL operates a network of 11 airports across Scotland: Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick John O’Groats.
The HIAL group connects regional Scotland to a network of more than 30 UK and international destinations, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, London, Jersey, Amsterdam, Bergen, Geneva and Zurich. Popular holiday destinations in Portugal, France and Italy are also served from Inverness.
The company employs more than 500 people across its 11 airports, and at its group headquarters in Inverness.
In 2012/13, the HIAL group recorded 1,297,676 passengers.