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Call for improvements at Wick airport to safeguard its future

By Gordon Calder

IMPROVEMENTS should be made to Wick John O' Groats Airport to safeguard its future, according to far north MP, Jamie Stone.

He has written to Inglis Lyon, the chief executive of Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial), asking for information on the long-term plans for the Caithness facility.

The Liberal Democrat MP is worried about the reduced business at the airport and stressed its importance to the local economy.

He said: "The number of flights in and out of Wick Airport has dropped in recent years and there is concern within my constituency that if we are not careful the airport might eventually close.

"The airport is vital to the economic future of the far north and I have written to Highlands and Islands Airports to ask what they are doing to increase the number and reliability of flights.

"Local services are vital in enhancing the area we live in and I hope that Hial will agree with me that we must do all we can to safeguard and improve Wick John O' Groats airport."

Improvements should be carried out at Wick John O'Groats Airport, says Jamie Stone.
Improvements should be carried out at Wick John O'Groats Airport, says Jamie Stone.

Responding to the Caithness, Sutherland and easter Ross MP's concerns a spokesman for Hial said: "One of our key priorities is to deliver long-term, sustainable connectivity for the communities we serve via our airports. We look to support the social and economic prosperity of the Caithness area wherever possible and will continue in our drive to increase connectivity to meet both business and community requirements for the area.

"In recent years £9.4 million has been invested at Wick Airport with a further £2.3 million in airfield improvements planned over the next two years."

Earlier this summer, local trade union members claimed the standard of air services to and from Caithness was causing "serious concern."

They were unhappy about the frequency and reliability of flights, the reduced opening hours at Wick John O' Groats Airport and the change in ownership of Eastern Airways, which operates flights between the far north and Aberdeen.

Thurso and Wick Trades Union Council said the situation could impact on attempts to attract inward investment at a time when Dounreay is being decommissioned.

Chairman David Alexander said that what is happening could have "a detrimental impact" on the local economy and the bid to get firms to come to the far north.

"It is causing serious concern," he said.

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