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9 November 04
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Maureen Macmillan has welcomed the £100,000 of Scottish Executive funding for Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, announced by First Minister Jack McConnell during a visit to Caithness this week. The funding will allow Eastern Airways to introduce an extra daily flight to their existing Wick/ Aberdeen service and begin daily return flights from Wick to Inverness and Inverness to Aberdeen.

Mrs Macmillan commented, “This is excellent news for Caithness. The ease of access to quick and sensibly scheduled air links to Inverness, Aberdeen and beyond is essential for business users travelling to and from Caithness.  When the new schedules are introduced early next year travellers from Caithness will have access to around thirty onward connections from Aberdeen and Inverness. The extra flights will also safeguard existing jobs at Wick airport and by having an aircraft based at Wick should create new jobs for necessary ground crew and cabin attendants. I am also pleased that the aircraft to be used by Eastern Airways is highly suitable for the purpose, as this will help maintain the integrity of the new schedules.

The new flights will undoubtedly increase the viability of commerce in the Far North of Scotland and impact positively on economic development. The funding shows the Scottish Executive’s commitment to the more peripheral areas and ends the poor air connections which have hampered local businesses for so long.

The ability to fly to London via Inverness and return the same day will also prove invaluable and the vastly improved air transport infrastructure can only help inward investment to Caithness. It will also make the work of agencies such as Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise and others negotiating to bring new employment to the county, easier.”

Mrs Macmillan added,” There are increased opportunities for tourism associated with the new schedules and I would hope to see some initiatives on this front. The flights can also be used by Caithness residents to avoid the long and unpleasant road journey south to Aberdeen or central Scotland.

Overall, the announcement is really good news for Caithness and provides new opportunities both economically and socially.”