New opening hours have been put in place from today (Monday 23 March) at Barra airport.

It’s part of a network-wide change of operations announced by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) on Friday.

From today, the airport will be open only between 11am and 3pm on weekdays, 10.30 to 3.30pm on Saturdays and for just an hour and a quarter, from 11am to 12.15pm, on Sundays.

The timings will allow scheduled flights to and from the island to continue, but reduce the potential for passengers to meet and mingle within the airport building.

The change has also led the management in the airport’s iconic café to shut up shop earlier than they had intended to. Sharon Penny posted on the café’s well-followed Facebook page on Friday afternoon, saying: “That’s all folks! Thank you to all our customers over our six-and-a-half year tenure but, due to the current situation, we have decided to cease trading earlier than planned. We shall be clearing out and leaving the premises to the new franchisee.”

HIAL is in the process of revising opening hours for all 11 of its airports in the region. On Friday a spokesman said: “The unprecedented global health crisis is affecting every aspect of our lives and it is a particularly challenging time for the travel and aviation industry. 

“In line with public health guidelines, airlines have reduced their scheduled services and we anticipate further reductions in service will come. 

“HIAL's priority is to continue to provide the lifeline services that are essential for our communities whilst maintaining the health and wellbeing of its staff. Therefore, HIAL is reviewing the operating hours at each of its 11 airports to accommodate current airline timetables whilst at the same time maintaining staff resilience to ensure lifeline services can continue. Details of any amendments to airport opening times will be detailed on the HIAL website.”

Inglis Lyon, HIAL's Managing Director said: "These are extraordinary times we find ourselves in, and our overriding priority is the continued operation of the necessary lifeline services for our communities and the health and well-being of our teams.

"Our staff are following the guidelines issued by Public Health Scotland and have appropriate equipment and materials to safely execute their roles. We continue to review the situation and have contingency plans in place to ensure we continue to operate where needed.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff who are working to pull out the stops to do exactly that."