Four Highland airports are due to shut on Thursday as a result of strike action by air traffic controllers.
Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Benbecula are among six airports in Scotland which will ground all but emergency flights for 24 hours from midnight on July 29.
The closures come after staff at Highlands and Islands Airport Limited (Hial) announced they will stage a one-day strike as part of their ongoing fight against plans to centralise services in Inverness.
Prospect members first launched industrial action in January after the company announced they aim to replace all air traffic control towers in the north with a video feed and computer technology.
The move has since been criticised for the “negative impact” it would have on remote communities and the local economy – resulting in forced redundancies and loss of “high value” jobs.
Hial’s managing director Inglis Lyon said the ongoing industrial action is “extremely disappointing” and apologised for the inconvenience caused by the closures.
He said: “We apologise for the inconvenience this day of strike action will cause.
“The disruption will impact our passengers, airline partners and the communities we serve at a crucial time in the recovery from the effects the Covid pandemic.
“It is extremely disappointing that strike action is going ahead despite months of work with Prospect to agree a number of policies to support our colleagues’ transition to our air traffic management programme.
“We are still in talks with the union on a commuting policy and appeal to Prospect to conclude those discussions before considering any further escalation of industrial action.”
Action taken to save “high value” jobs
Prospect members have since confirmed that the current industrial action will also remain in place before and after the day of strike.
David Avery, Prospect negotiator, said the step was taken in effort to protect communities and save “high value” jobs.
He said: “Our members have been forced into this escalation of industrial action to protect the communities they serve.
“Hial’s plan will remove high value skilled jobs from economies that can ill-afford to lose them, having a substantial negative impact on those communities.
“The Scottish Government has the power to step in on this debate but the minster hasn’t even taken the time to meet the local councils involved, or indeed its own MSPs, to discuss the impact of the remote towers project.
“Prospect members are not averse to change but it has to be done in a way that maintains jobs and skills in remote communities. Hial needs to halt these plans now so our members can get on with their jobs.”