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Inverness Airport; Vital For Islanders

Inverness Airport is sited at Dalcross, an area that is around seven miles from the city. The site sits on the edge of the highlands, a rugged part of the country that is visible as you approach to land. The airport, due to its position is the primary airport for those entering the north of Scotland and the Hebridean Islands. Being so close to the highlands and the beautiful coast a large number of coach operators and car hire companies have services based at Inverness. For those who do not want to enter the highlands, the airport also acts as a gateway to the city of Inverness.

Unlike many of the major airports in the UK Inverness is not owned by BAA and is instead owned by the Highland and Islands Airports Limited. The company owns a number of mainland airports and also most of the airports on the islands that lie to the north of Scotland. Last year it is estimated that around seven hundred thousand passengers used the airport. These passengers were flying in to either reach the Hebridean Islands or to tour the Highlands; some were probably entering to play golf as well.

Like many of the airports in the UK Inverness was requisitioned during the Second World War by the Royal Air Force. In 1947 however Inverness was returned to civilian uses. A route to London Heathrow was established by British European Airways in this period; BEF being one of the precursors to the national flyer British Airways. This service was however postponed as the profits were not large enough to warrant continued operation. Services to London were not completely abandoned however; Dan-Air opened a link to Gatwick in the eighties as well as an additional service to Manchester. Dan-Air also experienced difficulties in ensuring profitably and the routes were once again discontinued.

Dan-Air was taken over by BA in the nineties who attempted to keep the services to Gatwick and Manchester in operation but once again the services had to be cancelled due to a lack of interest. While national airlines seemingly turned their back on Inverness Airport, the growth of budget airlines gave the airport a new lifeline.

As a result the routes from Inverness were increased. Some even head out to European destinations. Today however, the efforts to increase the numbers of international passengers have been largely ineffective as the route to Gatwick remains the most popular. Despite this, services such as restaurants, shops and car hire desks have still been built up in the terminal.

The primary purpose of Inverness airport however is not as a gateway to Europe. As the airport that services the islands a large number of small aircraft fly from the airport on a regular basis. This role makes Inverness a hub for islanders who are trying to get further afield. After flying in from the islands it is normal to fly onto Gatwick to reach destinations around the world. The airfield has a more important purpose however, without it the islands would be considerably more cut off; both postal services and goods transports regularly fly from Inverness to reach the islands.

This important role means that the existence of Inverness is somewhat assured. Without it the life of islanders would be far more remote. Providing a lifeline to the mainland is important, especially when considering medical emergencies and vital correspondence. While it may not be the most far reaching of airports, it is still an important link in northern Scotland’s transport network.

Air travel expert Thomas Pretty looks into how car hire Inverness airport services have played an important part in the development of the site.

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