23rd February 2022
Caithness Chamber of Commerce strongly welcomes today’s announcement by the Highland Council that a contract has been awarded to Eastern Airways to run a Public Service Obligation (PSO) for three years from Wick to Aberdeen.
The Chamber, with funding from Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, developed the original business case for a PSO from Wick John O’Groats Airport and has continued to play a key role in the partnership efforts to secure funding and design a service specification.
Trudy Morris, Chief Executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said:
“I am delighted by today’s announcement, which will be welcome news for the business community across the North Highlands. The return of this lifeline service will enable us to better work with customers and partners across Scotland, to seek out new opportunities, and will play a vital role in the economic revitalisation of the region post-COVID.
“Ensuring the return of air services to Wick has been a long-term priority for the Chamber and we, along with a range of partners, have invested significant time and effort to develop and secure a PSO. The Chamber, along with other key CNSRP partners, including the Highland Council, worked to ensure the service procured is truly reflective of the needs not just of the local business community but of the whole region, and represents a fresh new approach to the delivery of air services from Wick. This has been partnership working at its best.
“The world has changed significantly since we drafted the original business case, but the fundamental needs of the region to connect with other areas across Scotland, the rest of the UK, and globally has not. The PSO that has been secured will offer that vital connectivity, and will provide a strong base for further growth in years to come.
“Net zero and sustainability were at the heart of the PSO business case and we are supportive of the Scottish Government’s commitment to the Highlands and Islands becoming a net-zero aviation region by 2040. The Chamber will work with other CNSRP partners, the operator and HIAL to ensure that sustainability is considered as a key part of the development of the service.
“This service marks a new deal for air passengers across the North Highlands, with guaranteed service specifications, ticket prices capped at reasonable rates and a timetable built to suit the needs of the region first and foremost
“Flights on the new service can be booked now and will offer not only the ability to do a day’s business in Aberdeen, but onward travel to a vast array of domestic and international destinations suitable for both business and leisure travel.
“It has been a long and hard road to get here and we are delighted to see the return of commercial air services to Wick. With the service offering such a flexible timetable and ideal onward connections, we are sure that everyone living and working in the North Highlands will take full advantage of the additional connectivity it has to offer.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Highland Council, the airline, and local partners to ensure the continued success and growth of Wick John O’Groats Airport.”
Mark Rouse, Dounreay Managing Director said:
“We were pleased to be able to support the production of the business case for the PSO. The airport has always been a valuable asset for the community, especially for business users, and we welcome the news that flights will begin again. This is great news for local employment, for business and for community to have secured the three year PSO. We will continue to work with our CNSRP partners to ensure that we can be supportive in ensuring its viability to continue beyond the initial three years.”
A copy of the proposed timetable which will be implemented from 25th April 2022: