SCOTLAND’S smaller regional airports handled a record number of passengers last year, figures yesterday revealed.
Operator Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) said it was the busiest year collectively for the 11 terminals which saw 1.4 million people pass through – an increase of almost 52,000 on the 2013 total.
Inverness was the busiest while Sumburgh in Shetland was the fastest-growing, with an 18.2 per cent hike in passenger numbers to 319,597. Dundee racked up a 19.5 per cent decline, and a slight drop was noted at Campbeltown.
The group said a fall in numbers of almost 30 per cent at Wick John O’Groats saw a return to more typical levels for the airport following a surge the previous year due to short-term offshore helicopter activity.
The rest of the airports saw an increase in the number of passengers including Barra, Benbecula, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Tiree.
Growth was strong during the last quarter of the year for Inverness Airport which gained 19,000 passengers as it enjoyed its busiest year since 2008 with 628,526 passengers over the full 12-month period.
Inglis Lyon, HIAL’s managing director, said: “We are delighted with performance of the group as a whole, particularly at Sumburgh and Barra, our fastestgrowing airports.
“The success of these two airports underline the importance of aviation for business and tourism in our island communities.
“On the face of it, 2014 looks like a slow year for Wick John O’Groats. In actual fact, the airport recorded one of its best ever years. Compared to 2013, when the airport enjoyed unprecedented growth, last year was generally in line with our forecasts.”