The operator of 11 airports across Scotland has reported record annual passenger numbers.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) handled 1,437,625 million passengers in 2015-16, a rise of more than 6,000 on the previous year

The Highland gateway of Inverness was the busiest airport, while growth was also reported at Tiree, Barra and Dundee.

But figures for the first quarter of 2016 are down, Hial said.

A decline in business from the energy sector at Wick John O’Groats and Sumburgh airports and the loss of a Flybe Inverness to London City service were factors.

Hial said numbers of passengers were expected to rise again with new flights operating to and from Inverness airport, where £900,000 is being spent on expanding and upgrading the termnal.

Managing director, Inglis Lyon, told the BBC: “This has been a good year for Hial’s airports.

“Our smaller island airports performed extremely well, as did Inverness and Dundee, both of which will see expansion in the coming months as a result of new routes.”

He added: “We have worked hard to improve connectivity across our group, with new aircraft serving the communities of Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown and new air services due to launch at Inverness and Dundee.

“As a result of our strengthening route network, regional Scotland is now better connected than ever before.”