Regional air passenger numbers soar to record levels

Barra Airport
Barra Airport
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BARRA Airport, which has the world’s only beach runway, has helped boost passenger numbers across Scotland’s regional airports to record levels.

Regional airport operator HIAL has handled more passengers than ever, with numbers reaching almost 1.5million.

While Inverness Airport was the busiest of the 11 airports operated by the group, smaller island airports such as Barra and Tiree also enjoyed strong growth.

Barra, which this year celebrates its 80th anniversary as an airport, saw numbers rise by almost 11% to 11,663.

Tiree, meanwhile, saw passenger figures rise by 12%, to 10,957.

HIAL handled a total of 1,437,625 passengers in 2015/16, up by more than 6,000 on the previous year.

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Inverness Airport added more than 13,000 passengers during the year, reaching a total of 671,103.

Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL, said: “This has been a good year for HIAL’s airports.

“Despite the downturn in the energy sector, a key market for HIAL, passenger numbers increased during the year.

“Our smaller island airports performed extremely well, as did Inverness and Dundee, both of which will see expansion in the coming months as a result of new routes.

“We have worked hard to improve connectivity across our group, with new aircraft serving the communities of Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown and new air services due to launch at Inverness and Dundee.

“As a result of our strengthening route network, regional Scotland is now better connected than ever before.”

Meanwhile, figures for the first quarter of 2016 show a drop in passenger numbers across the group, a result of the downturn in energy sector traffic at Wick John O’Groats and Sumburgh airports.

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There was also the loss of Flybe’s Inverness to London City service, which operated in the first quarter of 2015 but was then discontinued.

However, the new financial year is expected to be one of the busiest in Inverness Airport’s history as easyJet expands and British Airways and KLM launch new flights to Heathrow and Amsterdam respectively.

Holiday airlines Thomson and First Choice have also confirmed new summer flights to Majorca in 2017.