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Caithness News Bulletins August 2005

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Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd. Publishes 2004/05 Annual Report and Accounts
Growth in passenger numbers, increased revenue and ongoing investment in airport infrastructure are highlighted in the annual report and accounts for 2004/05 published by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited.

In the year ending 31 March 2005 HIAL's 10 airports handled almost 1,016,000 passengers and more than 82,500 aircraft movements. Passenger numbers for the year ranged from 6,000 at Tiree to 565,000 at Inverness.

HIAL manages and operates 10 airports in the North and West of Scotland. The airports range from the region's principal hubs at Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh to those at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Islay, Tiree and Wick.

The company is responsible for providing airport infrastructure, facilitating lifeline air links, air route development and supporting economic sustainability and social inclusion in Scotland's more remote communities.

Passenger numbers across the company's airports in the year increased by 9% to 1,015,657 compared to the previous year's total of 933,779 while aircraft movements rose by 2% to a total of 82,764. The largest increases in passengers were recorded at Inverness with 17% growth and Stornoway with 4%. Modest increases in passenger numbers occurred at Barra, Campbeltown, Kirkwall and Tiree while small decreases were recorded at Benbecula, Islay, Sumburgh and Wick.

Receipts from traffic and other charges amounted to 10,826,000 which was 1,020,000 more than the previous year's figure and reflected increased income at Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall and Stornoway.

The total subsidy received from the Scottish Ministers was 21,438,000, which was split 17,333,000 revenue and 4,105,000 capital. The subsidy offset the difference between earned revenue and the total cost of the operation and supported capital investment in airport infrastructure and upgrades.

Maintaining and upgrading airport infrastructure during the year required capital investment of 4,195,110. The largest project was the rehabilitation of the main 09/27 runway at Kirkwall which incurred costs of 1,374,768 while a further 840,458 was invested in environmental works for the treatment of run-off water at Inverness to meet Scottish Environment protection Agency requirements. The upgrade and extension of the terminal building at Wick required investment of 735,327. This work was carried out to meet National Aviation Security Programme requirements and to create an enhanced passenger facility.

Speaking before the publication of the annual report and accounts at Inverness Airport today, HIAL's chairman Alex Matheson said: "The importance of air travel to the region's economic and social sustainability is evident in the passenger growth achieved in the year. With the support of the airlines the airports handled almost 82,000 additional passengers, representing a net 9% increase in passengers. For the first time in the company's history more than one million passengers travelled on scheduled services via our airports, reflecting the central role played by aviation in the region's transport network.

"Route development and passenger growth were realised with the support of the airlines and our strategic partners. We were encouraged that new services and routes continued to be welcomed and supported by travellers to and from the region. We also continued to invest in infrastructure to provide service enhancements to our customers," said Mr Matheson.

Looking to the future Mr Matheson added: "We are confident that our managing director, Inglis Lyon, who took up his post at the end of May, will provide the leadership that will drive HIAL's development and deliver positive outcomes for the people, businesses and communities that our airports serve.

"Air travel is central to the region's transport needs and we are determined to ensure that HIAL continues to be innovative in its outlook and supports a sustainable air network that delivers real economic and social benefits for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland."