Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) has published passenger figures for 2018.
Inverness Airport continued to see a rise in passengers with an increase of 1.8 per cent, up to 903,157 in 2018 from 887,123 in 2017. Benbecula in the Western Isles reported the largest percentage increase in passenger journeys, up 6.2 per cent at 37,224.
Sumburgh, which serves the Shetlands and the North Sea sector, saw passenger movements dip 8.5 per cent to 372,064 from 406,537 in 2017. This reflected a reduction in helicopter traffic as oil and gas firms altered flight patterns to support their offshore operations.
Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Tiree all reported increases year-on-year.
Barra, Campbeltown, Dundee and Wick John O’Groats all saw slight drops in passenger journeys compared to the previous year.
Overall passenger numbers were down 0.7 per cent at 1,762,871 in 2018, compared with 1,775,168 in 2017.
HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said the performance represented a consolidation of demand across the group’s 11 airports.
Mr Lyon said: “Inverness Airport continues to grow and is playing an ever more important role in improving connectivity to and from the Highlands. Its international connections and regular flights to hub airports in Amsterdam, London and Dublin make it an attractive proposition for travellers.”
2019 sees BA start its double daily flights from Inverness and KLM will operate up to three flights per day between the Highland capital and Amsterdam for the peak summer season.
Mr Lyon added: “The overall figures illustrate the need for continued investment and support in regional airports that offer connectivity for the communities they serve. We continue to work with our colleagues at Transport Scotland to nurture and develop our network and ensure long-term sustainability for our airports.”
“HIAL will continue to invest in our airports and we continuously work to improve and enhance the passenger experience for all those who use our facilities.”
Inverness Airport has been ranked one of the top airports in the UK and Europe in customer satisfaction surveys for 2018.
The industry-standard Airport Service Quality (ASQ) surveys assessed by Airports Council International (ACI) showed that Inverness ranked second in the UK for overall satisfaction. It was also ranked second in the UK (and top five in Europe) for the courtesy of its check-in and security teams.
Mr Lyon said: “I am delighted that the hard work put in by the whole team at Inverness has ranked the airport so highly in the UK and Europe. This is further recognition of the dedication from all our staff who work so hard to meet the high standards and service expectations of our passengers.
“We are committed to delivering the best possible airport experience for our customers and the communities we serve.”