Argyll and Bute Council has announced the number of passengers travelling with Argyll and the Isles Air services has grown this summer by 48.5%.
Operator Hebridean Air Services carried 906 passengers between May and July 2012 on services between Oban Airport and the islands of Coll, Colonsay, Tiree and Islay.
The council’s Lead Councillor for Development and Infrastructure John Semple said, “A better connected Argyll and Bute will help combat the recession. Rural Scotland has enormous potential to reverse economic decline – as we have, within our natural resources, the means to create hundreds of well-paid and rewarding jobs. However, without the transport connections to markets and commercial centres, these jobs will not materialise. Our increasing patronage on these flights despite difficult market conditions given the current economic climate is an indicator of significantly greater potential.”
The number of passengers using Argyll Air Services has increased steadily since it was established in 2008. During the period September 2011 – August 2012 the number of passengers increased by over 30% with over 3000 passengers carried compared to 2300 travelling in the same period the previous year.
Local air services are essential to the social and economic wellbeing of the islands they serve providing resilience in the event of ferry cancellations and helping to counter issues such as depopulation.
The services are used regularly by local businesses and have proved essential for service provision to the islands with the NHS and Argyll Community Housing Association being key users.
- The services operating to and from Oban Airport provide island residents with access to essential services which cannot be provided locally and also support the development of tourism in Argyll. In recognition of the importance of these services, subsidy is made available by Argyll and Bute Council to operate the Public Service Obligation air services to Coll, Colonsay and Tiree.
- Argyll and Bute Council are keen to build on the growth of local air services and have commissioned a marketing strategy aimed at consolidating and expanding operations at Oban Airport.
- The council are keen to work with Transport Scotland, Hitrans and other local authorities to align the tendering process for Public Service Obligation air services in the West of Scotland and identify gaps in the market where additional routes and services could potentially be introduced.