PASSENGER numbers at Sumburgh Airport fell by nearly one fifth in 2018/19 – the largest drop in activity across the Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) portfolio during the year.
HIAL’s annual report for 2018/19 revealed that 348,443 passengers travelled through Sumburgh during the day – a 16.9 per cent decrease from the 419,448 the previous year.
The number of aircraft movements at the airport, which also serves the oil and gas industry, dropped from 25,628 to 20,973.
It was confirmed in the report, meanwhile, that it cost HIAL £522,000 to install car parking barriers and payment systems at Sumburgh Airport.
The controversial £3 a day charge was implemented in December last year in a bid to increase revenue for government owned HIAL.
HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said the group operating loss suffered in 2018/19 was £2.402 million.
During the year HIAL received a public subsidy from the Scottish Government of £28.428 million, with the majority the money designated for running costs.
“As a publicly owned body, we continue to operate within a tight fiscal climate and constantly look at innovative ways to deliver our services to improve efficiency and effectiveness,” Lyon wrote.
“Our focus throughout the year has been to achieve best value in all we do. We continue to be innovative and adaptive, seeking new business opportunities wherever possible to develop income streams and improve efficiencies.”
While Sumburgh’s passenger numbers were down by nearly 17 per cent, the total drop in passengers across HIAL’s 11 airports was 2.1 per cent.
Sumburgh remained the second busiest HIAL airport behind Inverness, which had over 900,000 passengers in 2018/19.