HIAL airports report increased Q2 passenger traffic

Leading regional Scottish airport operator, Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL), experienced an increase in passenger numbers during Q2 of 2016 thanks to the opening of several new flight routes and renewed offshore activity between April and June.

The figures reveal an additional 36,225 passengers used the 11 HIAL airports across Scotland (up by 9.3%), compared to the same period in 2015.

Passenger numbers swelled by 16.7% across the group during June alone, with Dundee Airport experiencing a 128.4% increase in user numbers (2,600 passengers) during the month compared to the same period last year.

The Tayside airport launched a new Flybe service to Amsterdam Schiphol in May, with growth on the Stansted route also attracting 3,694 more customers to the airport during Q2 2016 than in the same period in 2015.

Inverness Airport, where HIAL is headquartered, welcomed 23,756 additional travellers in Q2 2016 compared to the same period last year. The airport’s popularity was bolstered by the unveiling of new services to London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol in May. A new connection to Geneva Airport is scheduled to begin in November.

There were also increases in passenger numbers at Barra, Tiree, Kirkwall and Sumburgh, as Tiree and Barra benefited from increased frequencies with their new aircraft.

Demand for services at Sumburgh Airport in Shetland increased sharply in the remaining two-thirds of the quarter, with 9,504 more passengers using the airport this year.

Wick John O’Groats and Stornoway recorded a fall in passenger numbers, due to restructuring of energy sector demand for services to and from Aberdeen. The withdrawal of additional summer scheduled flights at Islay also contributed to a fall of 300 passengers at this airport during June.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL, said: “We have made a significant investment in new services during the early part of this year, so it is pleasing to see that demand for most services at the majority of our airports continues to be high.

“Inverness is reaping the rewards of the recently-restored link to London Heathrow and the new KLM Amsterdam link, while Dundee’s new flights to Amsterdam have resulted in a marked increase in passenger traffic. However, there remains much work to do to ensure these services maintain momentum through the off-peak.

“There has been a reduction in demand at Wick John O’Groats due to cutbacks in the oil industry. However, energy industry services have not been entirely negative, with Sumburgh seeing 5,971 more passengers in June 2016 alone as a result of growing oil sector activity in the area.

“Tens of thousands of tourists travel to Scotland each year to experience our festivals and natural beauty. More and more of these visitors are choosing to travel through our airports, thanks to our strong connections with each area and our range of competitive routes.

“Continued interest in smaller island airports such as Barra – which celebrates its 80th anniversary later this year – underlines the importance of our air links to some of Scotland’s most remote communities.”

ENDS