Study Identifies Costs of Trialling a Skye – Glasgow/Edinburgh air service
A working group tasked with investigating the feasibility of re-introducing a scheduled air service linking Skye with either Glasgow or Edinburgh has undertaken work to identify the necessary funding for a trial service to establish its viability.
The trial is seen as a more realistic and proportionate initial way forward for the proposed service, which offers significant economic benefits to Skye and Lochalsh, with the potential for more than 15,000 passengers using the service each year.
The preferred option involves deployment of a 19-seat aircraft - a Twin Otter – to operate 12 flights per week from the existing airstrip at Ashaig, near Broadford to Glasgow.
It is estimated that two years is the shortest realistic timescale needed to obtain licences and approvals, construct new facilities, set up an aerodrome operating team, sign agreements with airline operators and commence scheduled air services.
Members of HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, were given an update on progress being made on the project at their meeting at Stornoway today (Friday).
HITRANS are represented on the working group along with representatives of The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Transport Scotland and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd.
Through consultation with key stakeholders, an outline layout for the introduction of a trial service at Broadford has been prepared, which identifies provision of: a 200 square metre modular building terminal situated in a central location with short walking distances to the car park and the apron. 30 public car parking spaces including EV charging provision, would be provided, together with space for bus, taxi and drop off.
Using funding from the SPARA 2020 (EU Northern Periphery InterReg Programme) Project, for which HITRANS is the lead partner, aviation consultants Arcadis were commissioned to identify the infrastructure and operational costs required to establish the trial air service.
The capital investment required to make the airport ready for a scheduled service is estimated at between £1,150,000 and £1,360,000 and the annual running costs of supporting the air service and running the airport is estimated at between £880,000 - £980,000.
Commenting on behalf of the Working Group, Ranald Robertson (HITRANS Partnership Director) said: "The research undertaken by the Working Group clearly demonstrates a demand for the service but we must be realistic in what we can achieve with the funds likely to be available. Operating a service on a trial basis is clearly going to be more affordable and our focus now must be to identify the funding to get the trial service off the ground. If this funding can be secured, the working group will set out future steps including airport and airspace licensing which would include stakeholder and community engagement.”
Note: Skye (Ashaig) Airport is located around 4 miles east of the village of Broadford on the Isle of Skye and is owned by The Highland Council. A 771m long asphalt runway is currently in operation and is used for a variety of purposes including general aviation. However, no commercial services have operated from the airport since 1988 and the airfield is unlicensed under CAA regulations. There are no terminal facilities but there are welfare facilities and a hanger on site, which is used by Aerobility.
A number of aviation regulations and guidelines must be adhered to in considering the reopening of the airport.
The remit of the Working Group is to:
- identify and implement the necessary investment required to support the establishment of a pilot scheduled air service between Skye Airport and the Central Belt.
- ensure that all necessary technical, operational and licensing requirements for establishing scheduled air services from Skye airport are addressed and advanced with a view to achieving this proportionately with the pilot nature of the air service establishment.
- establish cost of any trial and consider opportunities for funding.
Issued by HITRANS on behalf of the Working Group.