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Step forward for trial air services between Skye and Glasgow

16th May 2019

At today's 16 May 2019 meeting of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillors gave the go ahead for the Chair to write to the Transport Secretary on behalf of the Council, HITRANS and HIE seeking financial and technical support to enable the establishment of trial air services between Skye and Glasgow.

In March the Skye and Raasay Committee met to discuss the Skye aerodrome, specifically operational matters, revised fees and the scope to reintroduce trial air services between the island and Glasgow utilising and upgrading the existing airstrip at Ashaig

Today the EDI Committee also approved the recommendation of the Skye and Raasay Committee that an additional £170K of funding be provided to undertake further engagement with statutory bodies and for preparation work, including obtaining necessary licenses and upgraded airport facilities.

The case for reintroducing air services between Skye and the Central Belt was identified in 2016 through work undertaken by independent consultants on behalf of the Skye Airport Working Group which includes representatives from The Highland Council, HITRANS, HIE, HIAL and Transport Scotland.

During 2018 work was commissioned which undertook an analysis of best value options, based on a 19-seat twin otter aircraft, on Skye in the short term. Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) provided significant input that has enabled the project to benefit from the extensive expertise their staff have from operating and maintaining a network of similar airports across the Highlands and Islands. The work identified that this could be achieved for an overall value in the range of £1.53m to £1.77m.

Chair of the Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee Councillor Allan Henderson said: "I would like to thank the input of the Skye and Raasay Committee members, HITRANS and all members of the local working group for their work to get to this stage. They have shown us that a service can be introduced at reasonable cost in comparison with other airports in the HIAL network. It’s time now for the Scottish Government to assist us in delivering a pilot service between Skye and Glasgow and I will be writing to the Transport Secretary asking for his support."

Ranald Robertson, HITRANS Partnership Director added: "The technical work we have undertaken in the last 12 months has identified that a trial service is a proportionate way for testing the demand for re-re-establishing air services between Skye and the central belt. Residents of Skye and Lochalsh have amongst the longest journey times to Glasgow and Edinburgh of any regional centre in Scotland and this modest investment would enable Skye to capitalise on economic opportunities that it has missed out on as a result of the time it takes to get there and the inability to do a day return either to / from Skye."

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