Airport operator Highlands and Islands Airports (Hial) enjoyed a boost in passenger numbers to “record-breaking” levels thanks to new routes to London and Amsterdam.
Hial recorded a 15.4% increase in passenger numbers across its 11 airports, with Inverness in particular attracting tens of thousands more passengers than last year.
The group said Inverness figures reached 829,018 for the financial year, with growth as a result of the airport’s Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol flights, although all major routes from the city welcomed additional passengers, it said.
Overall, 1,658,423 customers used Hial airports during the twelve–month period, a surge of of 220,798 passengers on the 2015/16 total of 1,437,625.
Sumburgh welcomed 355,667 passengers during the period with regular scheduled flights supporting the oil and gas sector and an increase in offshore traffic, while Dundee’s numbers grew to 38,700 people using the airport.
Strong tourist demand on flights from Glasgow to Barra, Islay and Tiree saw increases in passenger numbers at these airports, with Barra attracting 13,552 passengers in its 80th anniversary year.
But passenger numbers declined at Wick John O’Groats (-14.8%), due in part to reduced demand from energy sector services to-and-from Aberdeen, while Campbeltown (-3.6%) and Benbecula (-0.4%) also recorded narrow percentage falls in their passenger numbers.
Both Kirkwall and Stornoway airports logged a 1% year-on-year growth figure respectively.
Inglis Lyon, Hial managing director, said: “Our commitment is to continue to invest in our airports, and further develop our customer service as we attract new business and look to build upon the levels of growth witnessed in the last financial year in the future.
“Thanks as ever to all staff from all partners who helped make this a record-breaking year.”