Passenger numbers have fallen at all three of the airports in the Western Isles, according to figures released by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) on Friday (7 February).

The aggregate figures for 2019 show that Stornoway Airport saw the biggest dip in numbers, with air travel down by 3.3% at 134,680 passengers.

Barra was down 1.2% with 14,627 passengers over the year, and Benbecula also saw a fall of 1.9% with 36,507 people travelling by air.

Overall, HIAL saw traffic through its 11 airports fall by 0.9%, despite growth of 4.8% in passenger numbers through Inverness airport. The biggest falls were at Sumburgh and Wick, down 11.8% and 10.2% respectively. Sumburgh serves the Shetlands and the North Sea oil and gas industry and saw altered oil and gas flight patterns that support offshore operations. Scheduled passenger numbers were also lower on Aberdeen and Glasgow routes.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said the performance of the airports reflected aviation trends. He said: “We face challenges from a variety of sources including regulatory, technological, environmental and societal changes in coming years. Nonetheless HIAL will continue to invest in our airports and we are committed to continuously improving infrastructure and enhancing passenger facilities.”

Total passenger numbers include those on scheduled flights and larger commercial charters as well as air ambulance flights, small commercial and private charters and business flights.