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Transport / Self-service desks at Sumburgh as HIAL bolsters Covid safety measures

Sumburgh Airport. Photo: HIALSumburgh Airport. Photo: HIAL

SELF-SERVICE check-in desks are being introduced at Sumburgh Airport as part of plans to help ensure passenger safety as flights begin to return to normal service.

Operator Highlands and Islands Airport Limited is investing around £1.2 million in additional measures which will augment existing health and safety procedures that have already been implemented during lockdown and in response to the pandemic.

Self-service check in points will be made available at Stornoway, Kirkwall and Sumburgh airports, in addition to the existing check-in facilities.

Boarding card readers and body scanners are being installed at Sumburgh and Inverness to give customers and staff “additional confidence and reassurance”, HIAL said.

The airport operator will also install contactless customer feedback terminals in all its airports.

New figures, meanwhile, show that Sumburgh has fared better than other HIAL airports during the pandemic due to its oil and gas traffic.

It saw a 47 per cent reduction in passenger numbers, from 307,907 to 162,553.

Overall across HIAL’s network of 11 airports there was an average reduction in numbers of 76.7 per cent.

For periods during the last year when non-essential travel was prohibited, skeleton schedules were in place.

However, all travel in Scotland was reopened on Monday (26 April) as restrictions eased.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said: “Since early March 2020 HIAL’s priority has been to protect staff and passengers, while continuing to maintain the viability of the lifeline services.

“Although the pandemic will continue to have a significant impact on everyone’s lives and considerable impact on our business we are pleased that some domestic scheduled flights have recommenced and there is some optimism that international travel can resume with appropriate safeguards and with that in place we can look to rebuild passenger numbers.

“The pandemic has underlined the crucial role HIAL’s airports continue to play in maintaining connectivity for our communities in this remote part of Scotland and our staff continue to demonstrate impressive resilience and an extraordinary commitment to their communities despite extremely challenging circumstances.

“Our new, additional mitigation measures will help ensure efficient operations at our airports and will allow passengers to travel with additional reassurance and comfort.

“HIAL will continue to work with the Scottish Government, partner agencies and our airline partners to safeguard and develop key routes.”

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021