Argyll has three airports in the Highlands and Islands Airports Limited [HIAL] portfolio. The airports – at Campbeltown, Tiree and Islay – represent over one quarter of HIAL’s 11 airports and all three showed a growth in passenger numbers in the first six months of this year.
Over that period, Tiree has shown the highest increase of all 11 airports – of 12.6% over the same period last year.
Campbeltown is in fifth place with an increase of 6.9%; and Islay one place behind in 6th, with an increase of 3.9%.
The overall growth figure for HIALs portfolio is 5%, which is outperforming – by more than twice – the increase percentages of small European airports shifting fewer than 5 million passengers a year.
Needless to say, none of HIAL’s airports reach the level of ‘small’ in that sense. Its two busiest airports, Inverness and Sumburgh moved a total in the first six months of this year of, respectively 288,711 and 88,495. it seems impossible, but the City of Dundee, with 28,038 was in fifth place in this period, losing the highest percentage of its passengers, at -13.4%, compared with the same period last year. as well as Inverness and Sumburgh, it came behind Kirkwall and Stornoway.
In actual numbers carried, as separate from growth rates, Argyll’s HIAL airports are the goldfish amongst the carp.
Tiree may have grown the most, year on year in this period, but in that six months it carried the smallest number of passengers of the 11 HIAL airports – 4,531. Campbeltown carried 5,010 and Islay, what seems like a whopping 13,556.
Then there was the month of July – for which the figures from HIAL are also now available.
This month w2as bad news across all of the 11 airports except Tiree, again showing growth and the highest rate for the month at 3%, carrying 1.186. Inverness, at a modest 0.5% was the only other of the 11 to show any growth figure at all.
Islay had the worst loss for July, of -18.5%, carrying a total of 2.123 passengers. Dundee has the second highest loss for the month at -10% and Campbeltown the third highest at -7.9%, carrying 839.
What do these figures tell us?
For a start, they raise the question of whether locals are actually thinking of using their airports? We’ve just taken the HIAL website search to price a flight between Campbeltown and Glasgow a month ahead, Tuesday 23rd to Thursday 25th October. The outgoing flight costs £46, the incoming on £35 – a total of £81.
It HAD to be a weekday return because – guess what – there are no flights in or out of Campbeltown on Saturdays and Sundays. The reason will be demand – and of course it must be low. Just as with Glasgow’s Strathclyde Passenger Transport failing even to attempt to market the Seabus passenger ferry route between Helensbugh and Kilcreggan, nobody is marketing the absolutely spectacular scenic route from Glasgow to Campbeltown. This is there to be built.
You could go from Glasgow to London Luton by Easyjet, on the same dates as the Glasgow to Campbeltown flights above, for £57 – and this is not the cheapest, We took the mid-price fare on each day. Air fares are an issue.
Transatlantic passengers coming in to Glasgow should be able to buy in advance heavily discounted onward flights to the islands – and it takes as long to get to Campbeltown as to any island.
We don’t have any information why Tiree is showing this growth rate – unless Scottish Power Renewables are lobbying islanders at airspeed to drop resistance to their quite gross proposal for the Tiree Array – aka Argyll Array – offshore wnd farm that is 3.5 times the size of the island itself. We;ll see if we can find any indication as to why this growth is occurring – but it’s good news.
Oh – and the Isle of Barra is still feeling the impact of the TV series An Island Parish. It may have dropped -1.8% in passenger movements in July 2012 as against July 2011, but in the first six months of 2012, it grew on last year by 7.8%, carrying, 5,100.