Passengers using Scottish regional airports almost back to pre-Covid levels

Passenger numbers using Highlands and Islands Airports are now approaching pre-pandemic levels, new figures show.

The 12 months to March saw almost 1.5 million people use the 11 regional airports in the Scottish government-owned network, equating to 85% of the total recorded before the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent travel restrictions.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) saw passenger levels at Inverness rise by 63.5% to 750,235.

Dundee and Islay saw increases of 59% to 41,127 and 27,738 respectively.

Stornoway, Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Campbeltown, Tiree, Benbecula, Barra and Wick John O’ Groats recorded rises of between 9% and 40%.

Hial managing director Inglis Lyon said the increases were a testament to the work and commitment of staff to get the airports back to the levels they were operating at before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He said: “The figures highlight the vital role our people and airports play in the future sustainability and prosperity the communities we serve. They also a reflect well on the huge effort made by our airline partners to maintain service levels throughout the recovery period.

“Despite the pressures placed on business and people across the country throughout the pandemic, we have continued to invest in our facilities and to make improvements that benefit our passengers as well as the aircraft companies that serve them.

“With almost 1.5 million people passing through our 11 airports across the Highlands and Islands over the past 12 months, the economies in each of those areas will have benefited significantly from the added investment and spending they bring with them.

“Additionally, our ability to provide customers with increased opportunities to connect to the key airport hubs including Amsterdam and London means the areas we serve are better connected than ever to the major airline networks.

“We are now looking forward to what could be a strong summer season with customers again getting back to a level of confidence in travelling which will be a significant boost to those travelling to and from the Highlands.”

Scottish transport minister Kevin Stewart added: “These are welcome figures as Hial and the wider aviation industry continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic. I look forward to seeing passenger numbers continue to rise at Hial’s airports during the coming year.

“Many of the routes from Hial’s airports provide essential connectivity for the communities they serve and increasing passenger numbers will help to ensure that this connectivity is maintained into the future.”

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