Highlands and Islands airport passenger numbers up

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Passenger numbers at HIAL’s regional airports were up last month, new figures show.

• Passenger numbers for HIAL see 4.7 per cent rise

• Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats were strongest performers among 11 airports

The number of passengers at Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd’s 11 airports in April increased by 4,920 – a rise of 4.7 per cent - to 109,439.

The figures come as the company steps up its efforts to promote its airports.

Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats were again the strongest performers, attracting an extra 7,047 and 1,942 passengers respectively as a result of increased oil sector charters and refueling activity.

Increased demand for scheduled services to Sumburgh and the mainland also resulted in growth at Kirkwall, while Campbeltown reported additional demand on the Glasgow route.

As expected, numbers fell at Stornoway, Barra and Benbecula linked to the recently introduced changes to the Stornoway-Edinburgh and inter-island schedule.

Dundee’s scheduled service to London City recorded a 6 per cent increase, although overall numbers were down, albeit in line with recent months. Summer flights to from Dundee to Jersey have just resumed this month.

Numbers fell at Inverness as a result of fewer passengers on domestic routes. Passenger numbers were also down slightly at Islay and Tiree.

Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL said: “Growth last month was largely a result of increased demand in the energy sector at Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats, with some modest increase in demand for scheduled services at Kirkwall and Campbeltown.

“Elsewhere, the picture is more mixed, with the sluggish economy and changes to the schedule resulting in fewer passengers across a number of airports.

“For example, there is no doubt that recent changes to island schedules at Stornoway, Barra and Benbecula will have a significant and continuing impact on passenger numbers there.

“We are confident that numbers will begin to pick up again at Inverness over the summer as services to Jersey and Zurich resume, and a host of new holiday flights take off.

“At Dundee we are working closely with local stakeholders and tourism partners to promote the airport as a gateway for the renewable sector and for major tourism events such as the Ryder Cup. We have also been working hard to promote our airports at the recent Routes Conference in Hungary.”

HIAL’s Head of Business Development Lynda Johnston attended the Routes Europe Conference in Budapest this month to promote the group’s 11 airports. Routes Europe is one of the industry’s biggest showcase events, bringing airlines and airports from across Europe together.

Lynda Johnston said: “The airline industry still faces enormous financial challenges due to high fuel costs and the faltering European economy. As a result, we don’t expect to make progress overnight as we continue our discussions with a number of airlines.

“However, I am confident that we have been successful in raising the profile of HIAL’s airports with key airline decision makers.”

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, Southampton, Jersey, Amsterdam, Bergen, Geneva and Zurich. Popular holiday destinations in Portugal, France and Italy are also served from Inverness (summer 2013).

The company employs more than 500 people across its 11 airports, and at its group headquarters in Inverness.


Sumburgh boosts HIAL passenger numbers