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Inverness Airport; Gateway To The Highlands And Islands

Jul 12, 2008
The site of Dalcross is where Inverness International Airport is situated. It is seven miles from the city and also lies close to the majestic highlands. Due to this position in Scotland it is the primary airport used by those visiting the north of Scotland; as such the services offered at the terminal include coach tours of the highlands and car hire provisions. As well as acting as the perfect gateway to the northern region of Scotland, flying into the airport also gives the visitor the chance to tour the wondrous city of Inverness.

The airport is owned by the Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, this company not only owns the some of the regional airports on the mainland but also most of the airports on the outlying islands. Records show that over seven hundred thousand passengers passed through Inverness airport in the last year, flying to the many Hebridean islands, other destinations in the UK and further afield. Understandably, as tours of the highlands are extremely popular, car hire services and coach tour companies will continue to support the airport.

Originally Inverness was used by the RAF during the Second World War. It was two years after the end of the war that the airport was opened for civilian transport, the first flyer was British European Airways who opened a route to Heathrow; BEF would eventually form British Airways although the route to London was eventually discontinued due to poor financial returns. In the late eighties however, Dan-Air opened routes to Gatwick and Manchester as a replacement to the old Heathrow route, but once again, they were discontinued.

Dan-Air was eventually bought out by British Airways in 1992 who retained the service until 1997, but the service had to be withdrawn once more; locals of Inverness were not happy however with this and protested the change. During this period however the budget airlines arose, subsequently increasing the routes available to Inverness passengers. International flights have never been wholly successful at Inverness with a host of withdrawn services over the last decade. Today the most used route is still the one with London Gatwick.

Inverness airport does however serve a different purpose. As the predominant airport serving the highlands and island areas, the numbers of small to mid size aircraft using the airport are huge. Inverness fundamentally acts as a hub airport that allows islanders to reach Inverness and then fly to one of the major British airports. As well as shipping passengers, Inverness plays a vital role in the postal service for the islands; due to this, flights from the airport to islands are extensive, offering a vital lifeline to those people who live at the limits of Britain.

The future however looks bright for Inverness airport; in accordance with government legislation they have released plans for the development of the site over the next decade. Fundamentally management would like to improve the terminal and the accompanying services such as cafes, restaurants and car hire desks. In addition, the airport will most likely improve the number of flights to different UK cities such as Southampton and Exeter. Sadly for the airport, from the end of this year the BA will no longer be operating its franchise with Loganair servicing the islands. Instead Flybe will take up the role but BA will no longer have a presence at the airport.

Despite this, Inverness airport still has a valuable role to play in providing postal and passenger services to the islands. Without it these remote areas would undoubtedly be harder to reach. It may not have the prestige or the routes of a major international airport, but for those in the north, Inverness is invaluable.
About the Author
Travel expert Thomas Pretty looks into why car hire Inverness airport services are helping the site to expand and improve.
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