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Inverness Airport is an international airport situated at Dalcross, northeast of the city of Invernessmarker in Highlandmarker, Scotlandmarker. The airport is the main gateway for travellers to the north of Scotland with a wide range of scheduled services throughout the UK and Irelandmarker, and limited charter and freight flights into Europe. 678,776 passengers passed through the airport in 2008. It is owned by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) who own most of the regional airports in mainland Scotland and the outlying islands.

History

The airport was originally used by the Royal Air Force during World War II and was opened for civil operations in 1947. British European Airways, one of the predecessors to British Airways, commenced flights to London Heathrowmarker in the mid-1970s using a combination of Hawker Siddeley Trident jets and Vickers Viscounts (4-engined turboprops). By the late 1970s and early 1980s there were two daily flights between Inverness and Heathrow, however the route was discontinued in 1983 on the grounds of poor financial performance. Dan-Air inherited the service, offering a three-times daily service using initially BAC 1-11 jets followed in the early 1990s by Boeing 737-200 aircraft. The airline sustained the route adding links to London Gatwickmarker and Manchestermarker in the late 1980s, however these new services proved not to be successful and were discontinued.

When Dan Air was bought by British Airways in 1992, the flag carrier retained the service for a further five years, adding a fourth daily frequency shortly before withdrawing the link, amid considerable controversy and public anger, in autumn 1997. British Airways transferred the London service to Gatwick, operated by its subsidiary on a three-times daily basis using lower capacity BAe 146 regional jets. The emergence of easyJet as a force in UK aviation also coincided with the launch of a daily service to London Lutonmarker in 1996. Other destinations and airlines were added (Belfastmarker, Birminghammarker, Bristolmarker, East Midlands, Leedsmarker-Bradfordmarker, Liverpoolmarker, Manchestermarker, Newcastlemarker), particularly after 2003, where HIALs's marketing efforts were assisted by route development fund support from the Scottish Executive. The London Heathrow link was re-instated in 2004, by bmi on a daily frequency, however the service was discontinued in March 2008, the airline citing rising costs at Heathrow as the reason.

International scheduled services have never proved successful at Inverness. A new weekly seasonal service between Düsseldorfmarker and Inverness will commence in Summer 2009, operated by Lufthansa CityLine.

The now defunct Snowflake (a low cost subsidiary of SAS) operated a twice weekly service to Stockholmmarker in the summer of 2004, however the service was withdrawn after a short period of operations due to lack of demand. KLM UK operated a daily service to Amsterdam via Edinburghmarker in 1997 but this was short-lived, lasting only a few months. ScotAirways launched a service to Amsterdammarker in 2001, however this was withdrawn following the events of 11 September. British Airways experimented with a Saturday only connection to Bergenmarker in Norwaymarker (via Kirkwallmarker and Sumburghmarker) during the summer of 1990 but this too was withdrawn and never reinstated. A four times weekly service to Dublinmarker was operated by Aer Arann between 2006 and 2008 using ATR 42 aircraft before being withdrawn due to the effects of escalating fuel prices.

Present day

Flybe is now the largest carrier at Inverness Airport. It operates the thrice-daily London-Gatwick service, inherited from BA Connect operated by a based Embraer 195 aircraft. The carrier also has a based Bombardier Q400 which operates routes to Manchester, Jersey and Southampton. There are also Flybe routes using a Q400 to Belfast and Birmingham.

The airport performs an important function within the Highlands and Islands network, functioning as a hub where flights between the islands and the central belt connect. In the 1970s, British Airways operated Viscount services on the network later down-sizing to Hawker Siddley 748s. These were then replaced by ATPs. British Airways continued to lose money on these routes and gradually transferred its operations to franchise carriers British Regional Airlines and Loganair. Today these services are all operated by Loganair under a franchise agreement with Flybe. Another emerging player is Inverness-based Highland Airways which operates links to Stornowaymarker and Benbeculamarker as well as providing mail services to all the islands. Links to the central belt have recently been lost. There are no longer any direct services to Glasgow after they were withdrawn by Loganair. Highland Airways' attempts to operate this service were subsequently short-lived. There is, however, a twice daily link to Edinburgh.

Terminal information

The airport terminal is notable as an early example of the Public-private partnership favoured by the UK Government. HIAL was criticised for a PFI deal signed to build a new terminal at Inverness Airport. The deal signed by HIAL meant it had to pay £3.50 for every passenger flying from the airport to the PFI operator. In 2006, the PFI deal was cancelled, costing the Scottish Executive £27.5 million. The terminal has a number of retail outlets including a branch of WH Smith, a Starbucks and a cafebar, all land side. There is also a restaurant and bar airside. All the usual facilities are available at the airport including a Servisair Lounge, business and conference facilities, an ATM, postbox, Avis and Hertz car hire and an information desk.

Transport links

Bus

Improved bus services are now operating between Inverness Airport, Inverness and Nairnmarker. Stagecoach in Inverness route 11 runs every 30 minutes between the airport and Inverness city centre close to the railway stationmarker. Stagecoach in Inverness route 29X runs every hour to Nairn.

Rail

There is no station at Inverness Airport, although the Aberdeen to Inverness Line runs along the south perimeter of the airfield. A new station at the airport has been proposed recently, however for the meantime the nearest stations are Nairnmarker or Invernessmarker (both approximately away).

Road

The airport is located northeast of the city of Inverness just off the main A96 Aberdeen-Inverness trunk road and is clearly sign-posted from all directions.

Taxis are readily available directly in front of the terminal building.

Airlines and destinations

Scheduled flights

Charter flights

References

  1. BBC News - Deal to buy out airport terminal


External links




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