Regional airport operator HIAL enjoyed a surge in passenger numbers last quarter (April-June) including Stornoway and Benbecula airports.
Latest figures show the group, which comprises 11 airports across Scotland, attracted 385,491 passengers during the period, an extra 19,000 compared to the same point last year.
Across the group, passenger numbers grew by 5.3% with much of the growth at HIAL’s Inverness hub.
The Highland terminal saw passenger numbers rise by 20,098 (up 12.1%) over the period due to strong demand on its Dublin and Manchester services and other cross border routes. A new weekly summer service from Inverness to Zurich also launched during the period. With an extra 60,000 seats on offer this summer, the airport is expecting its busiest ever summer.
There were also increases at Stornoway, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Islay, and Wick John O’Groats.
Barra, Dundee, Kirkwall, Tiree and Sumburgh recorded drops in passenger numbers.
At Dundee, numbers rose in April but fell back in May and June, partly because charter flights to Jersey, which last year operated in May, started this year in June. Sumburgh was affected by a drop in energy-related traffic.
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL, said: “During the summer months, our airports welcome tens of thousands of visitors from across the UK, Europe and beyond, many of them arriving for summer festivals, others to play golf and many more to enjoy our natural attractions. The arrival of so many visitors is fantastic news for the regional economy and for the many tourist related businesses that rely on these visitors.
“Despite some variations across the group, many of our airports are recording more passengers than ever, with Inverness enjoying a particularly strong period of growth. Having secured additional capacity this summer, including new flights to Zurich, and with growing demand for services to Manchester and Dublin, we expect this trend to continue over the summer.
“After a period of sustained double digit growth, we are beginning to see some levelling of activity from the energy sector at Sumburgh. This is a natural consequence of the well documented problems facing the sector. Nevertheless, we are working hard to ensure there is a strong mix of scheduled and charter traffic at Sumburgh to offset the drop in energy related activity.”