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Gaelic support plan soars into the skies at Highlands and Islands Airports (Hial) sites, including Inverness

By Philip Murray

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Passengers at Inverness Airport (file image).
Passengers at Inverness Airport (file image).

AIRPORTS across the Highlands and Islands are doing their bit to boost the use of Gaelic in Scotland after rolling out a new awareness training programme for staff.

Highlands and Islands Airports (Hial), which operates Inverness Airport among numerous others, has started Gaelic awareness training as part of an effort to promote and increase the use of the language in Scotland.

The company’s board and senior management team recently took part in a course that covered the history of the language, its place in modern Scotland and how Hial’s corporate strategy and Gaelic Language Plan ties in.

Hial chairwoman Lorna Jack said: “Hial is in the privileged position of welcoming a significant number of Scotland’s tourists and visitors and of often being their first experience of Highland or island life.

“I took part in the course and I know that we all appreciated the chance to learn more about Gaelic’s cultural history. It was also refreshing to see how many people of all ages still truly value the language and music. Gaelic is embedded in so many of the communities that we serve and we are taking steps to ensure that our airports and services reflect this.”

She added that Hial is “actively encouraging” Gaelic speakers to join its board when the opportunity arises, and Gaelic speakers are welcome to apply for all roles within the company.

It will also look to “enhance awareness and use of Gaelic” within the organisation, with a particular focus on customer-facing staff. This will include producing language awareness training, as well as and specific vocabulary resources for airport staff.

Delivered by Fèisean nan Gàidheal, the session was part-funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Megan MacLellan, communications officer for Bòrd na Gàidhlig also attended the training.

She said: “We are happy to support these training sessions through our GLAIF (Gaelic Language Act Implementation Fund) scheme and we are sure that this will benefit and assist staff and board members in implementing their most recent Gaelic Language Plan.

“BnG’s GLAIF funding is available to all public authorities with a statutory Gaelic Language Plan and this time last year, Hial were successful in their application. This year’s scheme is open until April 22.”

Hial managing director Inglis Lyon said: “The Gaelic language has always played a significant role in our customer interactions and the communities we serve; however, we acknowledge that we can and should go further in ensuring that all our colleagues, irrespective of whether they are Gaelic or not, have a greater understanding of its cultural significance and importance.

“We are delighted to be working with Fèisean nan Gàidheal and a number of our local teams to develop additional resources that will enhance our awareness.”

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