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Flights between Wick and Aberdeen expected to attract 11,000 passengers in 2023/24

By Gordon Calder

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THE number of passengers on flights between Wick and Aberdeen is expected to reach 11,000 in this financial year, according to the leader of Highland Council, Raymond Bremner.

The Wick and East Caithness representative, who chairs the Wick John O’ Groats Airport Consultative Committee, said the route – funded by the Scottish Government and the local authority as a Public Service Obligation (PSO) – is continuing to grow. It had nearly 9000 passengers in its first year under the scheme.

Councillor Bremner was speaking after the Highland Council announced that it, in conjunction with operator, Eastern Airways, is offering a special promotional deal next month with flights at £49.99 one way. Bookings opened at the start of July.

Council leader Raymond Bremner says it is vital flights between Wick and Aberdeen continue to grow
Council leader Raymond Bremner says it is vital flights between Wick and Aberdeen continue to grow

The promotional deal is expected to assist a wider study, supported by Dounreay, a division of Magnox Ltd, to help understand the drivers of demand on the service and to provide an evidence base for future planning and development of the Wick-Aberdeen route.

Councillor Bremner said: “The Council has been delighted to support the delivery of lifeline air services from the north Highlands for over a year now, providing almost 9,000 passengers a fast, affordable and reliable way to travel between Wick and Aberdeen. The service has continued to grow as we enter our second year, and at current progress we are on track to carry about 11,000 passengers in 2023/24.

“This special promotional period will give a great opportunity for those who have thought about flying but not yet taken the plunge to give it a go at a guaranteed low price point. With flights twice daily throughout the week, as well as a Sunday service, there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this fantastic deal.”

He added: “It is vital to us that this service continues to grow and evolve in line with the needs of the communities it serves, and the wider piece of work that this promotion is supporting will help to generate really valuable data, enabling us to deliver an even better service to the north Highlands.”

Wick John O'Groats Airport. Picture: DGS
Wick John O'Groats Airport. Picture: DGS

Roger Hage, commercial director at Eastern Airways, said: “Any regional air service is aimed at generating increased accessibility, whether to help promote business development and regional prosperity or help support the burgeoning leisure benefits Caithness has to offer.

"While passenger numbers have grown year on year by 35%, this collaborative period of supported fares through August will help bring more from outside the region to see what Caithness, Wick & Thurso offers while also providing an added incentive for those living and working in Caithness to visit Aberdeen or connect onward".

David Calder, head of sustainability and socio-economics at Dounreay, said: "Air services from Wick have demonstrated positive numbers since their return last year and aside from the obvious benefit of a window of lower price flights for all travellers in challenging economic times, getting a better understanding of the impact of price on personal choices around working and travel habits post pandemic will help build the case for the nature of air connectivity to and from the area beyond the term of the current PSO."

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