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North and north-east airports outperforming

Press and Journal

Airports in the north and north-east are outperforming their European counterparts, according to new figures.

Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) recorded 5% growth in passenger numbers across its 11 terminals in the first six months of 2012.

It was more than double the European average of 1.8% for airports with 5million passengers ore less when compared with the same period last year, according to figures released by industry body Airports Council International.

The group's two busiest airports, Inverness and Sumburgh, saw passenger numbers rise by 9.6% and 10.4% respectively between January and June.

Fellow operator BAA said Aberdeen Airport also outstripped its European rivals with an 11.25% increase in passenger numbers to 1.6million in the first six months.

It emerged earlier this week that Aberdeen led the way for traveller growth at BAA operations last month. The Granite City terminal saw passenger numbers rise to 314,300 in July, up 4.4% on the same month in 2011.

Aberdeen has now enjoyed 19 consecutive months of year-on-year growth in passenger figures.

HIAL said yesterday that passenger numbers fell by 1.3% to 126,698 last month, however, with only Inverness and Tiree recording a rise in passengers in July.

Inverness traffic increased by 0.5% to 63,862 while Tiree was up 3% to 1,186 but figures fell at Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh and Wick.

The operator said a drop in business traffic during the school holidays, schedule changes and weather disruption were among the factors behind the July fall. It also said the Olympics might have played a part, as holidaymakers opted to stay at home to watch the games.

Managing director Inglis Lyon said that, despite the recession, HIAL's airports had enjoyed a strong start to the year, adding: "Clearly, last month's results were less encouraging, but we are hopeful that growth will continue.

"Much will depend on the strength of the economy, which is a key driver for business and leisure travel. Market conditions are tough, but we are punching above our weight compared to other airports in Europe."

HIAL employs almost 600 people across its airports and at the group's headquarters in Inverness.