Passenger numbers at regional airports are slightly up on last year despite service reductions, weather disruption and the tough economic climate, according to new figures.
Hial, which runs 11 regional airports across Scotland, said it handled 128,142 passengers in August, an increase of 0.3% on the same month last year. There were, however, wide variations in the figures recorded by some of the airports under Hial's umbrella.
The group's busiest airport, Inverness, recorded growth of 0.5% compared with the same point last year. Officials said an increase in international traffic on the city's Amsterdam route and a recently introduced commercial deal between Air France KLM and Flybe was offset by a lower demand for domestic flights.
Growth in the oil and gas sector boosted passenger numbers at Sumburgh on Shetland, which recorded an increase of 4.7%, bosses said. Kirkwall on Orkney reported a rise of 0.9%, while Islay and Barra recorded increases of 10.5% and 9.2% respectively.
Dundee returned to growth for the first time this year, with passenger numbers up by 1.8%. But passenger numbers at Wick fell by around 34%. Hial said the drop was partly due to weather-related cancellations.
Passenger numbers at Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, dipped by 2.4%. The operators said this was because a school construction project, which involved workers flying into Stornoway from the mainland, has now been completed.
Tiree and Benbecula recorded a drop of 4.7% and 5.2% respectively. At Campbeltown, passenger numbers fell by 0.1% compared with last year. Nevertheless, passenger numbers have increased across the Hial network by 2.4% in the first five months of the current financial year.
Hial managing director, Inglis Lyon, said: "The market is still clearly challenging, particularly the domestic sector. Given the economic climate and the return to recession, this is not particularly surprising.
"Against that background, any growth is welcome, however modest; and despite these challenges, there are also reasons to cheer, including the success of the Inverness to Amsterdam service, the continued growth in energy-related traffic and Dundee's return to growth.
"We are continuing to invest in our terminals and airport infrastructure to provide a better experience for our passengers and a more efficient operating environment for our airline customers. We are also working hard, in partnership with agencies across Scotland, to support the growth ambitions of our airlines."