Airports in the Highlands and Islands are to close to scheduled flights from Sunday to ensure that lifeline and emergency services can be maintained during the coronavirus pandemic.
Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) said its airports will also be closed to general aviation traffic to ensure that vital services, such as the delivery of medical and other critical supplies, the transport of key workers and emergency flights, can continue.
Hial is working with Transport Scotland and Loganair to agree a skeleton schedule to ensure its airports continue to provide lifeline and essential services, including NHS passenger transfer, Royal Mail and the oil and gas industry.
The company said it is also important that Hial does all it can to limit the spread of infection and protect the health and well-being of its staff.
We have been working closely with @scotgov and have decided to close all our airports to scheduled flights and routine general aviation traffic with effect from Sunday, March 29, 2020. Read more here: https://t.co/s1QYDGyrfO
— Highlands & Islands Airports (@Hial_Airports) March 26, 2020
Hial managing director Inglis Lyon said: “Our airports are unique in that their core role is to provide lifeline services for our communities in the Highlands and Islands. They are essential to the continued delivery of medical and other critical supplies, the transport of key workers, and also to enable emergency flights for island communities.
“Now more than ever there is a need to safeguard those vital services.
“I appreciate this crisis is unknown territory for all of us and at this time we do not know how long these essential measures will remain in place.
“We could not maintain these services for our communities without the extraordinary team spirit and commitment displayed by our staff right across the Hial group and I am indebted to them for their continued flexibility and dedication during a very difficult time for us all.”
Hial has 11 airports around the country – at Campbeltown, Islay, Tiree, Benbecula, Barra, Stornoway, Kirkwall, Sumburgh, Wick, Inverness and Dundee.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Our aviation sector is facing an unprecedented challenge in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, so the Scottish Government is working with industry partners to ensure our lifeline air links continue to operate for the remote communities that depend on them.
“These air routes are crucial for the transport of supplies and key workers, as well as providing a vital link when emergency transport to the mainland is required.
“I also wish to thank all the Hial staff for their efforts during this difficult time.”