According to the latest figures released, Scotland’s Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd [HIAL] saw a year-on-year passenger growth of over 8,000 for May 2013.
HIAL’s 11 airports handled 122,546 passengers in May, an increase of 8,180 on May 2012 (+7.2%).
Continuing oil sector growth saw Sumburgh attract an extra 4,967 passengers (+29.3%), while Wick John O’Groats recorded an additional 2,796 passengers in May (+123%).
At Kirkwall, strong demand for inter-island routes and scheduled flights to Aberdeen, Inverness and Shetland, saw passenger numbers rise by 2,471 (+17.2%).
At Inverness, growth on the flagship Amsterdam service, coupled with increased domestic traffic, saw passenger numbers rise by 1,406 over the previous May (+2.5%). In a further boost, easyJet is to provide additional seasonal flights between Inverness and London Gatwick from next month.
The Western Isles airports (Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra) all reported a drop in passenger numbers as a result of recent schedule changes. Barra was down by -32.1% – a very substantial fall.
Dundee’s passenger numbers were also badly down on last year at -45.4%, also due to ‘schedule changes’ – aka losing a key route.
The Argyll Airports
Passenger numbers were also down at the Argyll HIAL airports of Islay, Tiree and Campbeltown. Numbers were virtually unchanged for Tiree, at -0.1%, – 4% down for Islay but a whacking -26.8% down for Campbeltown. We have asked for the analysis to account for that.
The new Sunday service between Glasgow and Campbeltown – launched this month – is expected to provide a boost for tourism in the Kintyre peninsula, enabling golfing trips and weekend breaks. However, availability alone will not deliver the passengers. ‘Expecting’ this to boost tourism numbers will mean nothing if the right marketing to advertise and sell the route and the service is not carried out.
HIAL MD’s comments
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL says: ‘The continuing success of flybe’s Inverness to Amsterdam service is welcome news for the region and highlights the importance of Schiphol as a world hub for the north.
‘However, it is vital that the region continues to push for access to London’s main airports, and we are working closely with easyJet and others to grow the hugely successful Gatwick market. At the same time, we would urge the UK Government to do more to safeguard regional links into London.
‘Recent schedule changes continue to have an impact on passenger numbers, notably in the Western Isles and at Dundee.
‘We remain focused on providing additional choice for passengers in those areas, and across our network. The recent addition of Sunday flights at Campbeltown is a welcome move and could provide an economic boost for the region, as too will the return of scheduled flights to Bergen from Inverness, Kirkwall and Sumburgh.’ [Ed: our emphases above, drawing attention to the relative expectations of success.]
Details of new services
Flybe franchise partner, Loganair, resumed twice weekly flights from Inverness, Kirkwall and Sumburgh to Bergen on 8th June. Flights will operate every Wednesday and Saturday until 31st August 2013.
Sunday flights from Glasgow to Campbeltown will operate from 16th June until 29th September 2013.
easyJet will operate additional flights from Inverness to London Gatwick from 23rd July until 5th September. Flights will depart Inverness every Tuesday and Thursday at 8.45pm. These flights also operated during the summer 2012 schedule.
May 2013 passenger totals
- BARRA 795 (-32.1%)
- BENBECULA 2,840 (-13%)
- CAMPBELTOWN 862 (-26.8%)
- DUNDEE 2,633 (-45.4%)
- INVERNESS 56,925 (+2.5%)
- ISLAY 2,820 (-4.0%)
- KIRKWALL 16,835 (+17.2%)
- STORNOWAY 11,069 (-0.3%)
- SUMBURGH 21,891 (+29.3%)
- TIREE 807 (-0.1%)
- WICK JOHN O’GROATS 5,069 (+123%)