A Caithness business leader has issued an urgent appeal for the Scottish Government to provide a lifeline cash injection for Wick John O’Groats Airport to safeguard its future.
Last night, Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive, Trudy Morris, urged officials to approve Public Service Obligation funding to guarantee flights in and out of the county.
This comes as Moray East windfarm construction workers prepare to operate crew transfers from Buckie rather than Wick Harbour as a result of cancelled flights.
Fears over ‘potential’ long term damage to local economy
This raised fears over the “potential” long term economic damage.
Ms Morris said: “Ahead of this week’s budget statement, we are calling on the Scottish Government to commit to our business case for a Public Service Obligation.
“This provides a solution to the long-term degradation of airline services at Wick John O’Groats Airport, which has been without scheduled air services since last year.
“Unemployment is increasing faster across the North Highlands than the rest of Scotland, and this will be exacerbated by our lack of regional connectivity.
“This has already led to a loss of planned and future investment, as one multi-national company recently decided to cease operations at Wick Harbour, citing the lack of scheduled air services as a major factor.
“The situation clearly poses significant risk to our region’s economic recovery and longer-term potential.”
She added: “The PSO is a shovel-ready infrastructure project that aligns with Scottish Government policy objectives and will drive the region’s economy, help achieve net-zero targets and ensure the North Highlands has equity with the rest of Scotland.
“However, it can only be a reality if the Scottish Government commits and helps our region grow and succeed.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise the issues faced by the Caithness area and are considering carefully the business case submitted by the Caithness Chamber of Commerce for the direct subsidy of air services to Wick.
“We will respond as soon as possible, but we have been clear that any intervention would require multiple funding partners to restore scheduled services at Wick.”