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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Numbers soar at remote airports
Inverness Airport
Almost 46,00 people travelled through Inverness Airport
There has been an overall increase in passengers at Scotland's most remote and northerly airports.

More than 83,000 people travelled through the 10 facilities operated by state-run Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) last month.

That figure is an 11.7% increase on the same period last year.

New routes to Stockholm and London Heathrow saw passenger numbers at Inverness rise by 22.7%, with 45,901 people using the Highland hub in April.

HIAL also saw rises of 19.2% at Campbeltown, 8.8% at Islay, 4% at Kirkwall on Orkney and 7.9% at Stornoway.

Stornoway Airport
Passenger numbers rose by 7.9% at Stornoway Airport
However, the number of passengers dropped by 21.4% at Benbecula, 10.5% at Barra, 9% at Tiree, 8.3% at Wick and 1.6% at Sumburgh.

Aircraft movements at HIAL's airports fell by 0.5% from the previous year's figure to 6,363.

Managing director Bob MacLeod said he expected that passenger numbers would level out at those airports which had seen a drop last month.

"Our group of 10 airports continue to demonstrate year on year net growth, with Inverness - our largest and busiest airport - consistently developing at above the national average rate," he said.

"Even if we only maintain the current rate of expansion at the region's hub airport we could see one million passengers a year by 2010 at Inverness.

"We, of course, hope to see growth accelerate further by targeting more cross-border and European routes with the support of the Scottish Executive's route development fund."

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