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Significant move for business

£28m investment will ‘transform’ airports

Airports and passengers will benefit from investment

Regional airport operator, Highlands and Islands Airports is set to “future proof” its operations in Scotland with a £28 million investment over the next 10 to 15 years.

The long-term remote towers and centralised approach surveillance control programme will mirror an already successful project in Sweden and transform the organisation’s operations at key airports including Stornoway, Inverness and Dundee. 

The HIAL board has agreed to the move in principle and will now hold further talks with staff, stakeholder groups and politicians around the implementation of the project.  However, there will be no immediate changes to the existing HIAL operations.

Managing Director, Inglis Lyon, said the decision was significant for the business: “Our role is to ensure that the airport network benefits from investment in its long term future, secured through new technology.”

No decisions have been made in terms of the location of the proposed operational centre which will be the first Remote Tower Centre of its kind in the UK.

The new proposals will include HIAL airports at Sumburgh, Dundee, Inverness, Wick John O’Groats, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Benbecula and timescales for the implementation of the project have still to be fully discussed and approved.   

HIAL airports at Barra, Tiree, Islay and Campbeltown have different levels of air traffic usage and will not be affected by the changes. 

HIAL Chair, Lorna Jack, said the board was clear on the rationale and the benefits likely to be delivered by the new air traffic management solution proposed.

“This is a major investment for the business, but an investment which is required to ensure that we do what we are here to do which is to keep people flying, to ensure the long-term future for the business and our people and to continue to deliver new opportunities for the people of the Highlands and Islands and Tayside to connect with new locations around the globe,” she said.

HIAL is headquartered in Inverness and employs approximately 600 staff. The HIAL operation connects Scotland to more than 30 UK and international destinations and in 2016-17 handled more than 1.66 million passengers.

VisitScotland estimates that each inbound passenger generates over £300 of spend and in Inverness alone inbound aviation will generate almost £75m to the local economy.


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