Image: Raymond Hosie Photography
Three leading Highlands and Islands organisations, Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (HIAL), HITRANS (The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership), and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have collaborated to highlight the importance of air connectivity in the Highlands and Islands. Highland Council has also endorsed this submission. The regional bodies have submitted a joint response to the UK Government’s Aviation 2050 Green Paper which outlines proposals for a new aviation strategy for the next 30 years.
The joint response highlights that for the region to fully contribute to the UK economy it is essential that there are suitable policy mechanisms in place to ensure that the region has slot security at key congested hub airports such as Heathrow with a timetable that permits both daily business trips to / from the region and at times that enable onward connectivity to the global markets which Heathrow serves.
It also highlights the opportunities the Highlands and Islands provide for supporting innovation within the Aviation sector where it is already at the forefront of emerging technologies such as remote air traffic control, electric propulsion of aircraft and a location for a vertical launch spaceport for the UK.
Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair, HITRANS, welcomed the opportunity to contribute to future UK aviation strategy. He said: “Our submission has drawn on over a decade of region-specific reports. It provides an evidence base of the distinctive characteristics and requirements of the Highlands and Islands, its air services and how essential this connectivity is to the economic success of the region. There is a very clear message that improved and guaranteed air connectivity is critical to the future economy of the Highlands and Islands. Our joint response provides proposals as to how the new strategy can deliver this.”
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL said: “The joint submission highlights the importance of regional, domestic and international air connectivity, the challenges we face and opportunities for the Highlands and Islands to support innovation within the aviation sector. Airports and air services are essential elements to the transport infrastructure of the Highlands and Islands, and their contribution to the economic prosperity and social benefits for our communities cannot be underestimated. It is important that future strategy and policy recognise the region’s unique characteristics and aviation’s vital role in sustaining economic growth.”
Carroll Buxton, regional development director with HIE, said: “This engagement has been a great opportunity for us to present the case for improved Highland and Islands air services. Transport connectivity is a key driver in regional development. It helps attract inward investment, supports growth in local businesses, and helps strengthen resilience in rural communities. The network of airports across the region is a crucial part of this connectivity.”