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Increased passenger numbers

Record traffic through Highlands airports

KLM: increased frequency

Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) has reported a record-breaking rise in passenger numbers at its 11 bases.

In the three months to the end of June the airports carried 477,612 passengers, 55,934 or 13.3% more than the same quarter in 2016.

Highlights included a 17.6% increase at Inverness, an 18% rise in passengers at Barra and 26.4% growth in numbers at Islay after the introduction of an additional daily service from Glasgow which began in April.

In May 2017, Dutch operator KLM, increased the frequency of its flights from Inverness to Amsterdam from one to two per day. The additional flight provides an early morning departure time that offers increased options for Highland travellers to connect via Schiphol to the rest of the world. 

Sumburgh Airport welcomed 15% more than in 2016, with further evidence of growth in the oil and gas sector and an increase in offshore traffic, while Kirkwall’s numbers grew as a direct result of the new weekly service to Bergen, Norway.

Strong tourist demand on flights from Glasgow to Barra, Benbecula, Stornoway and Tiree saw increases in passenger numbers at these airports, with growth in numbers travelling to the islands during the Easter holiday period in April.

Robust figures were recorded at nine of the airports across Scotland. 

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said: “Our regional airports continue to play a key role, enhancing and supporting Scotland’s economy.

“Our commitment is to continue to invest in our airports, and further develop our customer service as we attract new business and look to build upon these levels of growth.”

SCDI Highlands & Islands director, Fraser Grieve, said: “Tourist attractions and accommodation providers in the Highlands and Islands have seen an increasing number of visitors, and businesses are finding it easier to reach international destinations, thanks to the continued growth of connections through Inverness Airport.

“The increase in passenger numbers shows the difference that having access to Heathrow and improved services to Amsterdam offers, and I hope we’ll continue to see rising numbers to support these key air routes.”

Passenger numbers declined at Dundee (down 29.8%) as a result of the withdrawal of the Flybe Amsterdam service by the operator in December 2016.  

Compared to 2016, the airport had 2,690 fewer passengers during the period.  Figures also decreased at Wick John O’Groats (20% lower), due in part to reduced demand from energy sector services to and from Aberdeen. 

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