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17 April 2012
Passenger numbers increase at HIAL airports

Passenger numbers at Scotland’s regional airports continued to grow last month, boosted by the success of Inverness Airport’s flagship Amsterdam service and growth in the oil sector.

Figures released by HIAL, which operates a network of 11 airports across Scotland, show that passenger numbers across the group rose by 4.1% to 98,109 in March.

Inverness, one of Scotland’s fastest growing airports, recorded an 11.5% increase in passenger numbers as a result of heightened demand for services to Amsterdam and London Gatwick. The city’s Amsterdam service now operates daily to Schipol Airport, connecting passengers to hundreds of worldwide destinations.

Increased oil sector traffic boosted passenger numbers at Sumburgh (+6.2%) and at Wick (+19.7). Tiree recorded the largest percentage increase of the month, up 34.7% against March 2011, during which the airport suffered a number of scheduled cancellations. Numbers rose slightly at Stornoway (+0.4%) and at Islay (+3.6%).

Passenger numbers at Dundee fell by 17.1% due to reduced capacity on its London City route. Numbers were also down at Kirkwall (-9%), due to the reduction in the winter schedule as well as weather related cancellations. Barra, Benbecula and Campbeltown also recorded a drop in passenger numbers.

In the 12 months to March, passenger numbers across the group rose by 8.7% to 1,258,452.

Sumburgh recorded the strongest growth, up 14.6% over the year, followed by Inverness, up 12.8%, and Stornoway, where passenger numbers have increased by 9.1%. Over the past 12 months, passenger numbers at Dundee have fallen sharply, down by 14%.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL, said: “The continuing growth in passenger numbers is good news for the regional economy and suggests that market conditions are gradually improving after a difficult period for the industry.

“We are particularly pleased with the strong growth at Inverness Airport which has been fuelled by the success of the city’s new Amsterdam service. With a daily direct link to one of the world’s key hub airports, Inverness and the Highlands are better connected than ever to Europe, the Gulf, Asia and beyond.

“With the return this summer of Lufthansa and Helvetic Airways, flying to Dusseldorf and Zurich, the choice for Highland passengers is set to improve further.”

He added: “We are committed to growing passenger numbers across the group and we are investing heavily across our 11 airports to deliver an improved experience for our passengers and airlines.”

About HIAL
HIAL operates a network of 11 airports across Scotland: Barra, Benbecula, Campeltown, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick.

HIAL airports support vital social and welfare air links to otherwise remote communities across the Highlands and Islands, including provision of Scottish Air Ambulance and Search and Rescue services.

The airports also serve the economic and commercial interests of regional Scotland, supporting oil and gas helicopter operations, lighthouse maintenance and Royal Mail services.

The HIAL group connects regional Scotland to a network of more than 30 UK and international destinations, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, London, Southampton, Jersey, Amsterdam, Bergen, Dusseldorf and Zurich. Popular holiday destinations in Austria, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal are also served from Inverness.

The company employs almost 600 people across its 11 airports, and at its group headquarters in Inverness.

In 2011, the group handled more than 1.15 million passengers.

Over the past year, HIAL has invested around £14 million on new capital infrastructure including runway resurfacing, refurbishment of air traffic control facilities and terminal improvements.

March 2012 passenger totals
Barra 652 (-6.2%)
Benbecula 2,908 (-5.0%)
Campbeltown 742 (-12.2%)
Dundee 4,882 (-17.1%)
Inverness 45,414 (+11.5%)
Islay 2,283 (+3.6%)
Kirkwall 12,130 (-9.0%)
Stornoway 11,129 (+0.4%)
Sumburgh 14,316 (+6.2%)
Tiree 764 (+34.7%)
Wick 2,889 (+19.7%)

2 November 08
Inverness Airport Secures Direct Link to Germany
Inverness Airport will offer direct access to mainland Europe in 2009 with a new air link to Germany operated by Lufthansa.

German flag carrier Lufthansa will operate flights between the Highland capital and Düsseldorf International Airport on Saturdays during the peak tourism season in June, July, August and September next year.

Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) welcomed the successful outcome of its route development discussions with the airline which is expected to bring a major boost to inbound tourism for the Highlands and Inner Moray Firth.

Germany is Scotland’s second largest international market for inbound tourism after the USA, accounting for 278,000 trips in 2006 and visitor spend of £123 million. Research has shown that German visitors tend to come to Scotland in the summer months and stay on average for two weeks.

The Düsseldorf service will operate on Saturdays from 20 June until 12 September 2009, one rotation per week, with Canadair Regional Jet 700 aircraft operated by Lufthansa Cityline with a 1hr 55min flight time. Further flight information and booking is available now at the www.lufthansa.com website.

Düsseldorf sits on the right bank of the Rhine, has a populkation of more than 500,000 and is the commercial centre of the Ruhr area. There are more than 260 bars and restaurants in the city’s old quarter and with outstanding museums, theatres, concert halls and galleries, Düsseldorf also has an international reputation as a centre for art and culture. For more information on the city and holidays in Germany visit the www.germany-tourism.co.uk website.

The development of the link has involved HIAL and support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Visit Scotland and the tourism and hospitality sector in the Highlands. Links with German tour operators have also been established and they are now selling holiday packages to the Highlands using the link for 2009.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL said: “Lufthansa’s direct link into Germany is a fantastic step forward for the airport and the region. For the first time we have the opportunity to bring visitors from the important German market straight into the Highlands to sample the outstanding tourism product we offer.

“Golf, whisky, outdoor pursuits and heritage are all major attractions for our German visitors and the region now has a great opportunity to capitalise on this new link. It’s a chance that I hope everyone will put their full effort behind because if it works well in 2009 we hope to expand the operation with Lufthansa in subsequent years.

“The route will also provide connectivity for our local market into mainland Europe with onward connections via Düsseldorf that will benefit business and leisure travellers so it is a win win situation achieved through effective collaboration,” said Mr Lyon.

Inverness Airport is the largest airport in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and handled a record 703,000 passengers last year. Its passenger throughput has doubled since 2000 as a result of route development with airline partners. The airport recorded its busiest month ever in August 2008 with more than 75,000 passengers using its scheduled and holiday charter flights.

The announcement of the Lufthansa Düsseldorf service was widely welcomed by stakeholders in the region.

David Smith, operations director at Scottish Development International said: “At SDI we are always looking for new ways we can help support Scottish businesses to internationalise as well as attracting overseas investment into Scotland.

“Dusseldorf is a thriving economic location at the heart of Europe. The direct access this new service will bring between Inverness, Germany and beyond has the potential to open up trade and business opportunities and bring a number of real economic benefits to the Highlands of Scotland.

“We are also delighted that the launch of this route coincides with the Homecoming Scotland events taking place throughout 2009 and hope that it will enable more people to come to Scotland and join the celebrations.”

Roger Edwards, senior development manager for international business at Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “Good transport links from the Highlands and Islands are vital in maintaining our competitiveness as a business location and for making the area accessible for visitors. Directly linking Inverness with a major hub in Germany will open up a new route for travellers from the Highlands into Europe. It will improve opportunities for local businesses to access new markets and create exciting new opportunities from improved business links.

“The collaborative efforts that went into creating this new route provide a great example of the public and private sectors working in partnership. HIE worked closely with HIAL, SDI, the Inverness Hotels Association, Visit Scotland and other partners to create a unified business proposition to Lufthansa. The support we have provided to secure this route shows our commitment to improving the economy of the Highlands and Islands and the benefits to Scotland as a whole.”

12 October 2008
HIAL Airports’ Q2 Results Show 2% Passenger Growth
The total number of passengers using airports in the Highlands and Islands has increased by 2% in the past six months compared to the previous year, according to the latest figures published. Passenger throughput for the 10 airports in the region operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited was 711,905 for the six months to the end of September. Total aircraft movements for the airports in the same period increased by 3.8% to 58,191.  Wick airport passenger numbers were 14,593 for September 13.3% higher than September 2007.

24 August 08
Loganair Becomes Fly Be Franchisee From 26 October 2008
Loganair are becoming a Flybe franchise partner and therefore will operate using the Flybe livery and brand, similar to the relationship they had with British Airways. Loganair remains privately owned.  The only flight the company currently operates to Wick is Wick - Edinburgh.

8 July 08
Gone are the days where little ones are strapped in for a boring, bumpy aeroplane ride. Kids can now travel in the soft lap of luxury, arriving happy and relaxed with their parents and other passengers left smiling too.

Cheapflights.co.uk, the UK's leading flight price comparison site, has researched how airlines can help keep kids amused en-route to holiday destinations. Visit the website's tips page on flying with children http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/travel-tips/airlines-facilities-for-flying-with-children/ covering everything from pushchairs and facilities to food options for tiny travellers, and turn what can often be a trying time into a triumph.

Child friendly travel is on the increase these days with various airport lounges and in-flight activities cropping up to keep both kids and parents happy. Airlines facilitating playful plane rides are plentiful starting with Virgin Atlantic, who offer kids their own seatback TV with its very own kids channel as well as a backpack complete with puzzles, crayons and other goodies. On the food front, they offer a children's meal comprising delectable dishes like pizza and fish fingers.

British Airways is masterfully organised in its kiddy perks having arranged them into age groups 3-5 and 6-12 years old. The younger group receive a blue nylon rucksack, a 'going on a plane' storybook, wristband aircraft, activity cards, crayons and stickers. The older group receive a white plastic rucksack, an electronic game, a reading book, travel journal and a pen. Long haul travellers have the added bonus of on screen entertainment from Disney, Cartoon Network and family blockbuster movies that have a parental lock to prevent viewing of unsuitable material.

Flying with Emirates will make your child feel extra special, if travelling on their birthday. With advance notice, a cake will be made and if there is time a Polaroid photo can capture the high-flying birthday kid. Low cost carriers on the other hand, have been found to have very limited child-friendly facilities, so pack plenty of snacks, activity books and gadgets to keep them amused and content during the flight.

Airports are also doing their bit to create some family fun prior to take off. Gatwick has a play area kitted out with baby-landings, soft play and finger-box play tables (interactive/educational games consoles) and has recently introduced a family lounge, which requires pre-booking.

Heathrow also offers a wealth of family catering in the shape of a supervised family lounge catering to kids aged five right through to 14, which is equipped with a TV, DVD player, reading material, toys, non-electronic as well as computer games.

Supernanny.com's expert Sarah Siese says, "Without you knowing it, many airlines and tour operators do offer families special provision to make travelling with children easier, so take them up on any assistance offered and ask when booking what else they can help with. My top tips are to take boiled sweets to help with ears popping on the descent, have a new exciting toy or book to offer as a treat and don't forget to take a favourite teddy in your hand luggage."

Nadine Hallak, travel expert for Cheapflights.co.uk, comments that "Creating a family friendly environment both prior to as well as in-flight, eases the stress that most parents dread about planning a getaway. Having looked after children en-route to a holiday destination, I can confirm that knowing in advance what to take on-board and where to keep kids entertained at the airport is hugely helpful in getting your break off to a happy start."

For more top tips on travelling with children, visit http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/travel-tips/travelling-with-children.html

8 July 08
Flying in the Face of Danger
Catherine Stihler, Scots Labour MEP, is calling for new European regulations which will upgrade the current safety measures in place on all European aircraft, which at present could risk Scottish infant lives and is discriminatory against Scots parents travelling with small children this summer.

Responding to safety restrictions and costs involved in travelling by air with young children, Catherine is appealing for EU regulations concerning child safety on aircraft to provide an alternative to the current lap holding loop belts used to restrain the child, which have been proven to place the child and parent in significant danger.

Catherine is questioning the current mandatory method for restraining children under the age of two on aircrafts. Loop belts which strap the child to the parents lap are proven to squash children’s intestines, even with pressure from take-off, alongside endangering the child should the adult fall forwards.

At present the only safe alternative for parents is to purchase a full price or slightly discounted child seat in which the infant will sit in an airline approved car seat (also purchased by the parents). This is highly costly in comparison to child fares on any other method of transport, discriminatory against parents travelling with children, as well as a clear example of airlines putting sales before safety.

Catherine is calling for the European Commission to recognise the dilemma faced by parents when flying with children, and is looking for legislation making it compulsory for airlines to provide a proportionate number of heavily discounted seats per flights for children and infants. As well as providing the necessary equipment to ensure the child’s safety – putting protection before profits.

Catherine commented: “European airlines and the European Commission need to consider the options available to parents at present and do the right thing when it comes to infant safety. Having been in contact with various airlines it is clear that the majority will implement the minimum safety standards as required by the EASA and CAA. As this is the case we clearly need to raise the minimum standards.”

“Charges for travelling with an infant, sharing a seat or not, are ridiculous. Air travel simply must be accessible to everyone and reductions for children should be consistent in line with other modes of transport.”

As an active supporter of children’s rights, Catherine is looking for improvements to child safety regulations on all EU airlines, alongside a more inclusive pricing strategy. Catherine will continue to apply pressure at the European Parliament in her role as Labour MEP for Scotland.

3 July 08
B17 Flying Fortress at Islay Airport
Islay Airport will play host to an example of one of the world’s most famous vintage military aircraft this week with the arrival of a B17 Flying Fortress en route from America to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

In July 1935, the first Boeing B17 was launched. It was an all-metal four-engine bomber, weighing in at 15 tons. Its specifications were well above those laid down by the US Army Air Corps. The plane first flew in Seattle and one watching journalist is said to have commented that the plane, when in the air, was a flying fortress due to the number of machine guns it carried. The nickname stuck.

The B17 was the main bomber used by the American Air Force in Europe during World War Two. It was deployed in thousands of missions over occupied Europe. In total, over 12,000 B17s were built in the war and nearly 250,000 Americans experienced flying in them.

The privately owned, USA based B17 will arrive at Islay on Thursday (3rd July) and depart for Duxford on Saturday. Local residents are being offered the opportunity to take short flights in the aircraft while it is on the island.

Duncan MacGillvray, Islay Airport manager said: “We’ve had a number of vintage aircraft at Islay over the years but never a B17. It’s a fantastic opportunity for local people to see this aircraft, and even to fly in it, before it travels on to Duxford.

“At HIAL we are very happy to have been able to accommodate the visit and waive the landing fees for the B17.”

The B17’s arrival at Islay is the latest chapter in the airport’s long and distinguished history.

Islay received its first recorded flight in July 1928. Midland Scottish Air Ferries operated the island’s first scheduled flight on 16th May 1933, arriving from Renfrew via Campbeltown. Two days earlier, on 14th May 1933, the island’s first air ambulance flight, using a De Havilland Dragon aircraft, landed on the beach at the head of Lochindaal to collect a local fisherman suffering from abdominal pains.

The airport at Gelegadale opened for business in 1935 and was taken over by the RAF during World War Two. The hard runways that exist today at Islay originally date from 1940. The Avro Ansons of 48 Squadron, Beaufighter and Beaufort aircraft of 304 Ferry Training Unit used the new runways while flying boats of 119 Squadron landed in nearby Laggan Bay. By 1944 the airfield was under the control of Coastal Command and included three runways and six hangars. Personnel stationed there included 266 WAAF and 1,113 RAF servicemen.

Many different aircraft have used Islay Airport over the decades, ranging from a Hercules and a BAE 146 jet of the Royal Flight to the smallest microlights. Loganair now uses Saab 340s for scheduled flights to Glasgow and many charter aircraft from the UK and overseas land at the airport. Scottish Air Ambulance Service planes and helicopters are regular visitors along with a variety of military and private aircraft.

Islay Airport handled 30,000 passengers and 2,700 aircraft movements in the year ending 31 March 2008.

14 June 08
North Airports Strike Update
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited today confirmed that Inverness Airport will not be affected by strike action called by trades union Unite for 23 June and 4 July.

The news came following local discussions between airport management and members of the Airport Fire Service.

This means that the majority of the airport’s traffic can operate as normal on the days of industrial action. However, flights between Inverness and Stornoway, Kirkwall and Sumburgh airports may be disrupted due to strike action at the island airports.

HIAL also said that it would prefer all fire fighters, leading fire fighters and engineers at its other nine airports to work as normal and to take a collaborative approach to future pay settlements.

The spokesman said: “The 2% settlement was the maximum offer we could make for 2007/08 within the public sector pay remit. However, we had approval from our shareholder to look at internal efficiency savings and use these to potentially increase the award.

“This was a real opportunity to be able to gain greater flexibility in future awards and recognise the work of employees across the company. The offer to conclude this work was turned down by the union.

 “It is the personal decision of individual members of staff represented by Unite whether or not they take the action. Some have already decided not to. The ballot for action was by no means unanimous and we would urge them to think hard about what a strike will achieve and what could be achieved by working together on the issue of pay.

“A strike will not increase the 2% award but working together on efficiencies and smarter working practices may do in the future,” he said.

HIAL has advised airlines and flight operators of the potential disruption at its other nine airports on 23 June and 4 July. The company will not be deploying Airport Fire Service personnel not represented by Unite in a bid to break the strike.

The spokesman added: “It would not be practical to seek to open some airports by deploying officers. Nor would it be desirable in terms of future working relationships within the Airport Fire Service. The ability of our airports to operate on the strike days will be down to the decisions of the staff represented by Unite.”

19 February 08
North Air Passengers See 4% Rise But Wick Sees Fall
More than one million passengers used airports in the Highlands and Islands in the nine months to 31 December 2007. Passenger numbers at Highlands and Islands Airports increased by 4% to the end of December 2007, totalling 1,000,804, according to figures published.  The Scottish Government owned airport operator is on target to record its busiest ever year to the end of March 2008. Aircraft movements for the same period totalled 80,000 which is comparable to last year’s figure.

4 January 08
Change to One Bag Rule at Airports But Check With Your Airline
Air passengers in the Highlands and Islands are being advised to check what hand luggage restrictions apply with their chosen airline before travelling next week.

The Department for Transport has approved new security arrangements at a number of airports in the UK. This means that at these airports the restriction previously imposed limiting hand baggage to one item per person will no longer apply with effect from 7 January 2008.

However, airlines apply their own operational policies governing the number of items of hand baggage which may be taken in to the aircraft cabin.

It is therefore essential that passengers arrive at their departure airport aware of their airline's policy on hand luggage.

HIAL airports where the one bag restriction no longer applies are:
Benbecula; Inverness; Islay; Kirkwall; Stornoway; Sumburgh and Wick.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL said: "Before departing we strongly suggest that passengers check with their airline on the cabin baggage arrangements for their particular journey.

"While all but our smallest airports can process more than one piece of hand baggage per passenger with effect from Monday 7 January this does not necessarily mean that airlines will accept multiple pieces of hand luggage. Passengers must therefore make themselves aware of the airlines' policies on this before embarking on their journey.

"Equally, the current security restriction on the carriage of liquids in hand luggage remains unaltered and passengers should continue to follow these to ensure a swift passage through departure security screening at our airports."

4 January 08
HIAL Seeking New Airline Operators at Dundee Airport
Highlands and Islands Airports is in discussions with a number of airlines regarding new routes at Dundee Airport, it confirmed today. Following the failure of Flywhoosh's operations at the airport in December, HIAL has approached several airlines regarding route development.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL said: "Discussions are ongoing with airlines regarding new operators for both the Belfast and Birmingham routes formally operated by Flywhoosh and new services at Dundee. "We believe that there is potential for the development of air links at Dundee and are actively pursuing these.

"Clearly the success of these discussions will depend upon the airlines' own plans and the availability of aircraft capacity within their fleets but we hope that our work will bear fruit this year."

3 January 08
Inverness – Heathrow Air Link to Cease
Highlands and Islands Airports today (3 January 2007) said bmi’s decision to stop its London Heathrow – Inverness operation at the end of March was driven by market pressures.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL, said: “We have worked very hard with bmi to maintain the Heathrow link which is an important one for our region. It’s disappointing that it will stop but not surprising given the pressure on slots at Heathrow.

“Regaining a Heathrow link at Inverness was a real coup in 2004 and bucked the industry trend of regional air access to the UK’s busiest airport steadily reducing. However, increasing congestion at Heathrow and the value of slots has now taken its toll and the economics of the situation make long haul services a far more attractive bet for airlines.

“This news strengthens the case for our region and other UK regions to support the current expansion plans at Heathrow since additional runway capacity will be essential if regional links are ever to be reinstated.

“Fortunately, at Inverness, we are still well served with links to Gatwick (Flybe and easyJet) and Luton (easyJet). We are also talking to operators regarding potential new London services with London City a target for development,” said Mr Lyon.

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