Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) who operate Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra Airports, have welcomed the UK Government’s budget pledge to encourage route development at regional airports through start up aid.
A spokesperson said: “Airlines serving remote and regional airports face additional costs and the potential market is typically much smaller than at major airports, so the risks are much greater. A regional start up fund that incentivises airlines to operate from smaller regional airports could, in turn, help boost local business and tourism. We will be seeking clarity from the UK Government on how this scheme will work in practice. It is important that remote regions such as the Highlands benefit.
“The move to abolish the two highest rates of Air Passenger Duty to create a uniform levy for all long haul flights is further good news. The new standard rate will make it cheaper for business and leisure passengers flying from the Highlands to destinations across South America, Africa, South East Asia and Australia via UK hubs such as Manchester and London Gatwick.
“We are disappointed, however, that the Chancellor has failed to address industry concerns about the impact of APD on the domestic market. Although departing flights from the Highlands and Islands are exempt from APD, passengers flying into the region are subject to the tax, and flights to and from Dundee are liable for APD. We will continue to push the UK Government for reform in this area.”