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3/14/2019 - Highlands and Islands organisations work together to influence air travel policy

 Key stakeholders from across the Highlands and Islands will meet officials from the Department for Transport (DfT) in Inverness on Friday (15 March) to highlight the critical importance of improved air services to the region’s prosperity.

The DfT’s has published a Green Paper, outlining proposals for a new aviation strategy to 2050 and beyond, with a deadline for responses of 22 June.

HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) are hosting the event at Eden Court, Inverness to develop their collective response to the consultation and also encourage local businesses and organisations to input.

Key priorities for discussion include:

·       access to international hub airports, such as London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol;

·       UK and Scottish Government commitments in the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal to improve and secure vital connectivity to Heathrow and other international hubs; 

·       maintaining and improving regional air links with the rest of the UK and Ireland, and understanding and quantifying the value of these;

·       safeguarding and developing lifeline services within the Highlands and Islands and routes to other parts of Scotland;and

·       keeping the region at the forefront of developing and implementing technologies to support the decarbonisation of aviation and improve efficiency in the sector.

Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of HITRANS, said: “We are delighted that senior officials from the Department for Transport are coming to Inverness to highlight the main features of the Green Paper and to hear from key stakeholders in our air-dependent area the huge importance of air travel in the Highlands and Islands and how they impact on our fragile economy.  This is a chance for us to ensure the issues are fully understood and suitably reflected in the context of the strategy.”

Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL, said:   “HIAL play a vital role in Scotland’s transport network, providing essential lifeline services to the communities it serves.   Our airports help deliver social benefit and economic prosperity to these areas, many of which sit on the far periphery not just of Britain, but also Europe.   It is important that the national aviation strategy reflect the essential air links that are the lifeblood for our more remote areas and business communities. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share the challenges we face within the Highlands and Islands first hand with Department of Transport officials.”

Carroll Buxton, Director of Regional Development with HIE, said: 

“Transport connectivity is a key driver in regional development. It helps attract inward investment, supports growth in local businesses, and helps strengthen resilience in rural communities. The network of airports across the region is a crucial part of this connectivity.

“This engagement event is a great opportunity for us to present the case for improved Highland and Islands air services.  We very much welcome the chance to meet with Department for Transport officials and discuss our collective response.”


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