An increase in passenger numbers at Barra Airport means it is one of the fastest growing in the Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd (HIAL) network, however numbers have fallen at both Stornoway and Benbecula Airports.
Latest figures show that HIAL’s 11 airports handled 1,283,362 passengers in 2012, an increase of 3.1% on the previous year.
Sumburgh was the fastest growing airport, up 13.2% in the year, followed by Barra (+9.0%), Tiree (+6.8%), Campbeltown (+5.9%) and Wick John O’Groats (+5.1%).
Islay enjoyed modest growth of 0.2%. Passenger numbers fell at Kirkwall (-0.1%), Stornoway (-1.0%), Benbecula (-1.6%) and Dundee (-11.2%).
Inverness, the group’s busiest airport, ended the year with 614,302 passengers, an increase of 3.4% on 2011, with much of the growth the result of increased demand for flybe’s popular Amsterdam service. Recent figures suggest that around 13% of passengers are using the service to connect on to destinations across the world with flybe’s codeshare partner KLM.
A new marketing campaign, featuring a New York city style yellow taxi, has been launched to promote Amsterdam as a global hub for the Highlands.
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL, said: “We are very pleased with our growth record in 2012, particularly given the difficult economic conditions of the past year. There has been a marked growth in oil related traffic at Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats, while Inverness has continued to benefit from the success of its Amsterdam service. We believe there is scope to expand the frequency of this service and enhance the global connections available via Amsterdam.
“There is clearly more work to do to attract new services to Dundee and we have been in discussion with a number of carriers. However, given the prevailing economic conditions, it is likely to be some time before we make progress.”
Meanwhile, there was a 4.4% increase in passenger numbers in December with 94,707 passengers across the group, compared to 90,674 in December 2011.
Wick John O’Groats was the fastest growing airport, with a 91.1% increase in passenger numbers as a result of oil related helicopter and fixed wing traffic. Similarly, oil sector charters and refueling activity helped boost passenger numbers at Sumburgh by 41.3%.
Barra, Kirkwall and Tiree also recorded increased traffic, with passenger numbers up 10.9%, 11.8% and 5.9% respectively.
Dundee recorded a drop of 52.8% following the withdrawal of scheduled services to Belfast and Birmingham. At Inverness, passenger numbers fell by 4.3%, a combination of schedule changes and weather related cancellations.
Numbers also fell at Benbecula, Campbeltown, Islay and Stornoway.