Three days of strike action by air traffic controllers at six airports is expected to create travel chaos across the north in coming days.
The boss of Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) has apologised in advance to customers for the delays and disruption caused by the industrial action which begins on Sunday in Inverness.
The snap strike decision by air traffic controllers, who are seeking a 10% pay rise, comes after talks broke down earlier this month.
With negotiations between HIAL and the Prospect Union having stalled, the industrial action may be the first of many strikes during the summer months.
Inverness Airport will shut on Sunday, while Sumburgh in Shetland and Kirkwall in Orkney will close on Monday, and the airports in Stornoway and Dundee will not operate on Tuesday.
HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon has urged the Prospect union to get back round the table and help deliver a solution to its long-running pay dispute.
Mr Lyon said HIAL was fully prepared for the three days of industrial action, which will see six of its airports closed due to strikes by air traffic controllers.
These were called following the rejection of HIAL’s latest offer on July 4.
The deal turned down by air traffic controllers comprised a retention allowance that would have seen them benefit from an additional £10,000 over a five-year period.
Prospect presented a counter offer, but HIAL said it significantly exceeded the flexibility and affordability of a publicly-owned organisation.
Mr Lyon argued that, during the process, HIAL was committed to resolving the dispute and had submitted a number of proposals that were rejected outright by the union.
He added: “We deeply regret the inconvenience and upset to hundreds of passengers affected by the strike action.
“We wish to find a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible and would urge Prospect to sit down with us once again to find some common ground on which we can arrive at a negotiated settlement.
“Our position has been consistent throughout. We can only deliver an affordable settlement within the terms of Public Sector Pay Policy.
“So far Prospect has continued to ask for a pay increase far in excess of what we are able to afford and that unfortunately remains the situation.
“We remain committed to resolving the dispute. Our latest offer of a retention allowance of £10,000 over a five year period remains on the table and will continue to explore potential solutions within our affordability.”
“The continued industrial action is having a significant impact on our passengers, communities and the airlines operating from our airports. We would encourage Prospect to revisit the offer and bring this dispute to an end.”
Richard Hardy, Prospect national secretary, said: “HIAL and Scottish Ministers have left our members with no option but to strike.
“We have been seeking to resolve this dispute for more than a year and this action is only being taken as a last resort.
“Strike action is by its nature disruptive but if we are to safeguard the long term future of air services in the Highlands and Islands we have to start paying air traffic controllers a fair wage.
“This is the only route our members see available to them to achieve this.”
Some passengers said that changing flights on the routes, due to the strike, had been difficult.
One woman, on HIAL’s social media page, said: “Operator saying flight active on Sunday.
“If I cancel I have lost my money and if I change it’s in excess of £500 to change four tickets. I’m disgusted with the operator and I will never use them again.”
Another said: “Absolutely disgraceful the way passengers are being treated.”