Transport / HIAL keen to make Sumburgh Airport carbon neutral

Sumburgh Airport was affected by strike action on 29 July. Photo: Ronnie Robertson

HIGHLANDS and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) has outlined its aim to make all of its airports – including Sumburgh – carbon neutral.

The company said it wants to help Scotland “create the world’s first net-zero emission aviation region by 2040”.

Key objectives are to reduce carbon emissions and collaborate in the development of zero emission aircraft which meet the needs of the Highlands and Islands.


The government-owned airport operator has just published its strategy for the next five years, which includes the recovery from Covid-19.

HIAL chair Lorna Jack said: “HIAL’s mission is to create social benefit and economic prosperity by building Scotland’s sustainable regional airport group of the future.

“We recognise we must explore safe, but also different operating models to decarbonise our operations and enable greener air services.

“With new advances in technology, cleaner air travel will become more viable – and our aim is for HIAL to be at the forefront of Scotland’s efforts to transition to a low carbon future – both in aviation and as a nation.


“Many of the opportunities identified in this plan will not be realised without new initiatives and support from our partners.

“We will work closely with the Scottish Government and others to achieve our long-term vision of becoming a net-zero carbon regional airport group.”

HIAL also recently announced it was leading a £3.7 million consortium project to create the UK’s first operationally-based, low-carbon aviation test centre at Kirkwall Airport.

The impact of coronavirus has also been spelled out, with the total year-on-year decline in passenger numbers across all HIAL airports between 2019 and 2020 nearly 70 per cent.


Lifeline services were maintained through HIAL airports during the pandemic, including Sumburgh.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said: “The pandemic will continue to have a significant impact on everyone’s lives and considerable impact on our business. However, it has also underlined the significant – even critical – role that HIAL’s airports continue to play in maintaining connectivity for our communities.

“Our staff also demonstrated impressive resilience and a genuine commitment to their communities despite extremely challenging circumstances and deserve our thanks.

“The customer experience has been seriously impacted by pandemic mitigation measures and air services have also been dramatically reduced. Recovery will take time and we aim to rebuild passenger numbers to 2019 levels by 2024/25.

“By protecting air access to communities, we play our part in ensuring that these often more remote communities remain sustainable. We will continue to work with the Scottish Government, partner agencies and our airline partners to retain key routes and to bring in new services where existing ones are cancelled.”