Passenger numbers fall at island airports

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The number of passengers at Benbecula Airport has fallen by nearly 14 per cent in the last month and nearly two per cent at Barra.

Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, who operate the airports, said the figures were compared to February 2013 and since then there had been cuts to the inter-island schedule.

This relates to the decision by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to axe flights between Benbecula and Barra and to reduce services between Stornoway and Benbecula to three days a week.

The passenger numbers at Stornoway Airport have risen by two per cent but HIAL’s other airports have seen much bigger growth.

At Inverness, passenger numbers grew by 3.7 per cent as a result of growth on the Amsterdam, Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester routes. The launch of a new winter ski route to Geneva also boosted passenger

There was particularly strong growth at Sumburgh (up 30.4 per cent) with increased demand from the energy sector and a rise in passengers flying between Shetland and Aberdeen. A multi-million pound terminal redevelopment to accommodate forecast growth in the energy sector is to be unveiled in the coming weeks

The number of passengers across the HIAL network rose by nearly six per cent to 92,607.
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL, said: “Recent schedule changes are continuing to have an impact on
inter-island flights in the Western Isles, though last month’s increase in demand at Stornoway was welcome news. At Inverness, international traffic has been boosted by the continuing success of the city’s Amsterdam service and the launch of a new winter service to Geneva, which we hope will return next winter, while the domestic market appears buoyant. The launch later this month of easyJet’s expanded service to London Gatwick is further good news for the domestic sector, particularly for business travellers.
“At Dundee, we are looking forward to the launch of a new twice daily service to London Stansted, one of the UK’s biggest and best connected airports, and a popular choice for business and leisure travellers.”