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Caithness business leader says changes to Wick/Aberdeen flight schedule are 'welcome news'


By Alan Hendry

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Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, checking in at Wick for Eastern Airways' first flight to Aberdeen after the service was reinstated in April.
Trudy Morris, chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, checking in at Wick for Eastern Airways' first flight to Aberdeen after the service was reinstated in April.

Changes to the Wick/Aberdeen flight schedule have been described as "welcome news" by far north business leader Trudy Morris.

She says the alterations coming into effect early next month will simplify travel links between Caithness and larger hubs, while pointing out that the timetable will require "constant review".

Regional airline Eastern Airways, which brought back the Aberdeen link to Wick John O'Groats Airport in April, announced last week that it is making "positive timing amendments" from August 7 following community feedback.

The first morning departure from Aberdeen is moving to a later time, with a later departure from the city in the early evening.

Ms Morris, the chief executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: “The new schedule for flight times between Wick John O’Groats and Aberdeen, starting from early August, is warmly welcomed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce.

"The route came into being as a public service obligation [PSO] in April this year but, with passenger numbers buoyant and growing, the service is already proving its utility.

"It is, however, extremely important that connections work for our business commuters, and to this end we have been working with Highland Council and the airline to see how this can be achieved.

"The PSO has been set up in such a way that the timetable can be flexed in accordance with customer feedback to ensure the service delivers for both community and business. So these changes are welcome news.

"The changed departure and arrival times – which better allow for passengers flying into Aberdeen from major UK cities to connect with the Wick flights – simplify travel communications between Caithness and larger British hubs."

Ms Morris added: "What we do also have to bear in mind is that onward connections are constantly changing and the timetable will need constant review to ensure we continually get the best connectivity possible.”

Eastern Airways said last week there had been "very encouraging passenger numbers" since the route was reintroduced, with a 220 per cent increase compared with 2019.

Adam Wheatley (managing director, Eastern Airways), Gordon Duncan (Highland Council), Trudy Morris (Caithness Chamber of Commerce) and Roger Hage (general manager, Eastern Airways) at Wick John O'Groats Airport in March, just over a month before the new Aberdeen link began.
Adam Wheatley (managing director, Eastern Airways), Gordon Duncan (Highland Council), Trudy Morris (Caithness Chamber of Commerce) and Roger Hage (general manager, Eastern Airways) at Wick John O'Groats Airport in March, just over a month before the new Aberdeen link began.

General manager Roger Hage said: “We are pleased with the returning numbers of passengers using our Aberdeen to Wick John O’Groats service but have recently undertaken some key research and amended our flying programme to significantly better the service.”

As other airlines had adjusted their summer flying schedules, he said, the arrival times at Aberdeen did not always allow for connections to Wick.

Key destinations were identified, including Manchester, Birmingham and London. The new flight times are in place to mirror arrivals from these destinations at Aberdeen to allow onward travel to Caithness.

The first morning departure from Aberdeen to Wick John O’Groats has been moved from 09:30 to 10:40.

Mr Hage added: “The feedback also showed that a later departure time from Aberdeen in the early evening would offer further connectivity options back to Wick John O’Groats.

"We have pushed our service from a 16:40 departure to 18:20. This allows for those working in Aberdeen to use the service at the end of a typical working day, but also those visiting the city for leisure purposes to have more time to enjoy the attractions before returning.”

The early morning Wednesday service from Wick John O’Groats to Aberdeen has been replaced with a later service on a Tuesday evening. Eastern Airways said the feedback highlighted a requirement in the schedule, particularly for those who would use the service for offshore transport from Aberdeen.

A long campaign to bring back scheduled links to Wick culminated on April 11 with the first flight to Aberdeen since March 2020.

Caithness Chamber of Commerce was the initial driving force behind the business case for a PSO and worked with others in the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership to help secure funding for three years from the Scottish Government and Highland Council.

The new Aberdeen to Wick schedule is due to take effect from Sunday, August 7.
The new Aberdeen to Wick schedule is due to take effect from Sunday, August 7.
The new Wick to Aberdeen schedule is due to take effect from Sunday, August 7.
The new Wick to Aberdeen schedule is due to take effect from Sunday, August 7.

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