HIAL airports “punching above” European rivals on growth

New research has found that Scotland’s regional airports are performing better than their European counterparts in terms of passenger growth.

Figures released by industry body Airports Council International show a slowing of traffic growth across Europe, with average growth rates of 1.8% for the first six months of 2012 for airports with less than five million passengers.

By contrast, HIAL – which operates a network of 11 regional airports across Scotland – recorded growth of 5% across the group in the first six months of this year, more than double the European average.

The group’s two busiest airports – Inverness and Sumburgh – recorded growth rates of 9.6% and 10.4% respectively.

However, in common with other Scottish and UK airports*, passenger numbers were down slightly last month, with 126,698 passengers recorded across the group, a drop of 1.3%. Only Inverness and Tiree recorded a rise in passenger demand, with Inverness up 0.5% and Tiree up 3%.

A drop in business traffic during the school holidays, schedule changes and weather disruption were among the factors behind last month’s slight fall in passenger numbers. It’s likely the Olympics were also a factor as holidaymakers opted to stay at home to watch the Games.

Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL, said: “Despite the impact of the recession, our airports have enjoyed a good start to the new financial year with passenger numbers up by 3.8% across the group – and by even more at Inverness and Sumburgh – which is considerably higher than the European average for airports with less than five million passengers.

“Clearly, last month’s result were less encouraging but we are hopeful that growth will continue. Much will depend on the strength of the economy, which is a key driver for business and leisure travel. Market conditions are tough but we are punching above our weight compared to other airports in Europe.”

He added: “We have been pleased with the success of our international services this summer, particularly flights from Dusseldorf and Amsterdam to Inverness, and the Bergen to Sumburgh service. A successful international network serves to strengthen commercial ties between regional Scotland and Europe, and also provides a valuable stream of inbound tourists who make a substantial contribution to our economy.”

// //

Hebrides Today brings you the latest news from the Western Isles

About News Editor