Strong demand for air travel

Staff from Inverness Airport celebrate increased passenger numbers. Picture by Trevor Martin.
Staff from Inverness Airport celebrate increased passenger numbers. Picture by Trevor Martin.

Regional Scottish airport operator, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), saw passenger numbers rise above 900,000 for the first time over the first two quarters with a record amount of travellers using its services.

During the first half of the financial year beginning in April 2016 until September 2016, 908,116 used HIAL airports, up by 111,750 on the same period last year when 796,366 passengers used the airports.

Inverness Airport, where HIAL is headquartered, has reported “outstanding” performances on its new airline services connecting the Highland capital to London and Amsterdam.

Passenger numbers at Inverness from April-September were 456,778 compared with 376,092 for the same period last year - up 21% (80,686).

British Airways and its Oneworld partnership operates the Inverness-Heathrow route with Dutch operator KLM and its SkyTeam partners operating the flight from Inverness to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport both of these routes delivering connecting passengers from the USA and Europe.

A new connection to Geneva Airport is scheduled to begin in December with easyJet.

HIAL chair Dr Mike Cantlay said the new Inverness routes were helping attract thousands of extra visitors to the North and were also allowing business to develop stronger links and get closer to new markets.

Dr Cantlay said: “Passenger figures for the summer season have been extremely robust.”

He added: “Inverness is now better connected than ever to two key airline networks – Oneworld and SkyTeam - with an impressive 40 to 50 per cent of passengers connecting through Amsterdam and Heathrow to and from international destinations,” said Dr Cantlay.

At Stornoway additional demand over the holiday period boosted passenger numbers travelling to and from Glasgow resulting in a growth in demand. Figures also grew at Barra and Tiree.