North Airports Record Busiest Ever Year
6th May 2007
Passenger numbers at airports in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland have increased by 7% in the past 12 months to a record total of 1,232,782.
Figures released today by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited show that an additional 80,000 passengers have used its 10 airports in the year to 31 March 2007 compared to the previous operating year making it the sixth consecutive year of passenger growth. Total annual passenger numbers at its airports have increased by 57% since 2000/01.
The year end results demonstrate the increasingly important role played by aviation in the economic development and social sustainability of the region which comprises some of the UK's most remote communities.
Aircraft movements in HIAL's busiest ever year increased by almost 9% from 93,234 in 2005/06 to a total of 101,223 in 2006/07.
Increases to the frequency of scheduled flights, new routes and the introduction of the Scottish Executive's Air Discount Scheme in May 2006 have all contributed to passenger growth across the region's air network, according to HIAL.
The region's largest airport at Inverness handled almost 700,000 passengers in the year - its busiest ever - a 5% increase due to the introduction of new routes to Benbecula, Belfast City, Dublin, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Nottingham East Midlands and Southampton airports by Aer Arann, Flybe, Highland Airways and Ryanair.
HIAL's three second largest airports at Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh saw increases of 17%, 6% and 6% respectively. The airports which showed the greatest percentage increases in the year were Islay with 26% due to Loganair's introduction of more flights and Sunday services between the island and Glasgow and Kirkwall due to additional frequency on Loganair's services to the Scottish mainland.
The only one of the 10 airports not to record growth during the year was Campbeltown which handled 121 passengers less than in 2005/06, a drop of 1.3%. Wick had a 5.7% increase in traffic in the year
David Sutherland, chairman of HIAL said: "Air travel plays a vital economic and social role in our region. It supports business growth, inbound tourism and sustainable communities, particularly in remoter island locations. Equally, the population growth and economic expansion in the Inner Moray Firth is being supported by better air connections from Inverness, which accounted for 57% of our total passengers in the year.
"A lot of hard work on the part of the airlines, stakeholders and the team at HIAL under the chairmanship of my predecessor Sandy Matheson has gone into achieving a very good result for the year. The real beneficiaries of this are the people who live and work in or visit our region for business or leisure - the people who have had better access to air services in the past 12 months.
"Our focus will remain ensuring that we improve our efficiency as a business while making a positive contribution to the local economy and communities as part of an effective transport network for the Highlands and Islands," said Mr Sutherland.
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