Scotland’s fourth-busiest airport, Inverness connects the Highlands domestically and internationally but more flights would be welcome.
Data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that just over 700,000 passengers used Inverness Airport – located at Dalcross – in 2022.
It is the main one of 11 owned and operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) across the north of Scotland.
Inverness passengers can fly to 11 scheduled destinations from the airport, including London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol.
However, both the Birmingham and Dublin routes stopped on January 5.
The most popular destination from the Highland hub is Gatwick, with its London counterparts Heathrow and Luton making up the top three.
Combined, they account for more than two thirds of the airport’s total traffic.
Here’s our top-seven list of destinations that could prove successful if made available at Inverness Airport.
Alicante is a Spanish port city located on the Mediterranean and is popular with tourists thanks to its good year-round weather, which includes daily average temperatures of 16-17C in the winter.
Outwith the city, which includes the eye-catching Santa Barbara Castle and El Postiguet beach, is around 120 miles of Costa Blanca coastline and numerous resorts, while the major city of Valencia is only a two-hour drive away.
If you begin to miss Blighty, then there is no need to worry, as Alicante is the gateway to Benidorm, which is known for its British contingent.
Although there is a direct Loganair flight from the Highland capital to Liverpool’s north-west neighbour, Manchester, it would be great if there was one to Merseyside, as it is the perfect location for a city break.
Home of The Beatles – the city’s airport is named after the late John Lennon – the Unesco City of Music is the birthplace of Merseybeat and the famous Cavern Club, which is associated with the Scouse rockers.
It is also home to spectacular architecture, including Royal Albert Dock and the Royal Liver Building, and one of the world’s most successful football teams, Liverpool FC, and neighbours Everton.
With Loganair’s Birmingham flight from the airport now ended, a direct link to the East Midlands would be a good replacement, as it is only a 45-minute drive to the country’s second-biggest city.
Birmingham is a good option for a short break and has numerous shops, including Selfridges, which is situated in the Bullring and, together with Grand Central, is the largest city centre shopping complex in the UK.
The Leicestershire airport also offers easy access to Leicester and Nottingham, while if it a quiet break you are after, is also in close proximity to both the Peak District and Sherwood Forest.
If a flight to Newquay was scheduled, it would mean a direct link to two of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations – the Highlands and Cornwall – which would benefit both areas.
And the seaside resort is popular with surfers, sunbathers and party-goers, with its sandy beaches coming alive in the summer, especially during August’s Boardmasters Festival, which includes live music and surfing/skateboarding competitions.
Away from Cornwall’s north coast, the duchy has lots to explore, including the spectacular St Michael’s Mount, Bodmin Moor and the famous Land’s End, while the tropical Isles of Scilly is only a 20/30-minute flight away.
Lufthansa CityLine operated a weekly summer flight from Inverness to Germany’s fashion capital – which is ranked as a Beta + world city – from 2009 until it was scrapped in 2012.
It would be a major boost if reinstated, as Germans represent the third-largest number of foreign visitors to Scotland.
A link would also be beneficial for Highland businesses due to Dusseldorf being located in Germany’s biggest state: North Rhine-Westphalia.
As well as trade fairs and fashion shows, the country’s seventh-largest city – located on the Rhine – is also a popular option for a weekend break, while for football fans, it is less than an hour away from Borussia Dortmund’s famous Westfalenstadion.
Located just 14 miles off the coast of north-west France, Jersey is probably best known as being a “tax haven”; however, there is so much more to the British crown dependency than this.
With mild winters and warm summers, the Channel island is an ideal destination to get away and although in the British Isles, it has a strong Norman-French culture and a string of fine beaches to enjoy.
Jersey’s capital St Hellier is the perfect place to relax, with three marinas and a number of restaurants; however, if you fancy going abroad, the ferry to St Malo in France can take as little as one hour and 25 minutes.
Back in May 2019, Highland councillors gave the go-ahead for flights to go from Skye’s Ashaig airstrip to Edinburgh and Glasgow; however, nearly five years later there is no aircraft movement.
Officially called Isle of Skye (Broadford) Airfield, it has the potential to become a hotspot for tourists visiting the island’s main attractions, such as the Old Man of Storr and Portree, but not just from the central belt.
A direct flight – or helicopter – from Inverness to the Inner Hebridean island would only take under 30 minutes, compared to the current two-hour plus drive, which would be a great boost for tourism and connectivity.
Inverness Airport is still reeling from the loss of flights to Birmingham and Dublin – especially the latter, due to its onward connections (and immigration pre-clearance) to destinations in the USA, including New York City.
It means people travelling on long-haul flights either have to travel via one of the London airports or Amsterdam, or have to travel south down the often dangerous A9 to Edinburgh or Glasgow.
However, it is not all bad news, as in November plans were announced to operate a regular flight between Inverness and Lorient in Brittany, which is located in north-west France.
There are ambitious plans in place for the airport‘s future, demonstrated by its 25-year masterplan and the opening of Inverness Airport railway station in February last year.
More flights will not just benefit residents across the Highlands, but also continue to attract tourists to the area, which the airport is aware of, as seen by past plans to rename it Inverness Loch Ness.
Inverness Airport destinations – discussion with airlines
A spokesman for Hial said: “Inverness Airport continuously works with airlines to identify, maintain and develop sustainable scheduled, charter and freight air services that provide sustainable connectivity from the Highlands and islands.
“Currently, passengers flying from Inverness can see the world through international connecting hubs – including routes via Amsterdam, London and Manchester.”