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16th April 2013

Passenger numbers at Scotland’s regional airports grew last month, heralding a positive end to the winter season.

Latest figures from airport operator HIAL show that its 11 airports handled 103,616 passengers in March, an increase of 5,507 (+5.6%) on last March. An early Easter and continuing growth in the energy sector helped boost passenger numbers.

Passenger numbers were up at Sumburgh, Wick John O’Groats, Barra, Kirkwall and Benbecula, while numbers at Inverness were essentially static.

However, passenger numbers fell at Campbeltown, Islay, Stornoway, Tiree and Dundee.

The figures also show that annual passenger numbers at HIAL have reached a four year high.

In the 12 months to March, passenger numbers across the group increased by 3.1% to 1,297,676 – the highest since 2008/09 financial year.

Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL said: “This winter has seen some particularly strong growth, with passenger numbers up during every month of the winter season. In large part, this is a result of the upturn in oil related traffic at Wick John O’Groats and Sumburgh, a key sector for our business and one with real growth potential. Kirkwall and Barra have also been performing well, with significant growth at both airports.

“After a difficult period for the aviation industry, we are encouraged to see annual passenger numbers reach a four year high.

“There are some challenges for the aviation business, with fuel costs remaining high and the UK economic outlook still weak.

“Nevertheless, we are look forward to what we hope will be a busy summer season with additional capacity on several key routes and the launch of some fantastic new holiday packages.”

The start of the summer season, which runs from April to October, will see the return of international flights from Inverness to Zurich, operated by Helvetic Airways, and the launch of new package holidays to some of Switzerland’s top mountain resorts as well as the French Riviera. Flybe’s popular service from Inverness to Amsterdam will operate daily from 13 April.

Flights from Kirkwall and Sumburgh to Bergen, operated by Loganair, will resume in May.

Campbeltown is set to benefit from the launch of a new Sunday service to/from Glasgow on 16 June and Loganair will extend its Sunday service between Glasgow and Tiree, operating from mid June until the end of September. Flights to Jersey will also operate from Dundee, from 4 May, and Inverness, from 8 June. Flybe’s mid afternoon departure from Inverness to London Gatwick will also return from 1 May.

Last month, HIAL became the first airport operator in Scotland to offer passengers free wifi. The system is now live across HIAL’s 11 airports. Regional airline flybe also confirmed a new weekly service from Inverness to Geneva, starting in December.

About HIAL
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.


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