The most northerly airport on the UK mainland will soon be reconnected to the scheduled airline network.
A new public service obligation (PSO) service will operate up to twice-daily between Wick John O’ Groats and Aberdeen from April 11. The remote airfield lost regular passenger services in 2019 and the pandemic increased concern in the local community that the area may lose its air connectivity for good.
The re-established link – fielded by 29-seat Jetstream 41 turboprops – will be operated by Eastern Airways in collaboration with The Highland Council and Transport Scotland.
The carrier is familiar with Wick having served the airport between 2001 and 2019. It also has existing scheduled operations from Aberdeen to Humberside and Newcastle in addition to energy sector charter flights to Shetland and Norway from the Granite City.
Reacting to the news, Dougie Cook, Wick John O’Groats Airport general manager said: “This is very welcome news and is the culmination of a lot of hard work by many individuals and organisations. The introduction of this PSO route offers a real boost to the communities we serve.
"It demonstrates a commitment to connectivity and to the wider economy and I am sure it will lead to new opportunities for businesses and tourism to develop. We have invested significant sums in improving the airport and the runway in recent years and we look forward to working with all stakeholders and customers as we prepare to welcome regular flights once more.”
Being a PSO route means the service and its costs are subsided. It will be funded by £1 million from Transport Scotland and £300,000 per year from The Highland Council over the next three years. As such, lead-in fares start from just £39.99 one-way, including a 15kg hold bag and all taxes and charges. Bosses at Eastern Airways predict 20 new direct and indirect jobs will be created to help support the service.
Adam Wheatley, Eastern Airways managing director added: “Helping solve vital regional connectivity is what [we] have done for 25 years. Working in partnership with The Highland Council, Transport Scotland and key regional stakeholders, connecting again one of the most distant surface transport journeys in Scotland to the hub airport of Aberdeen, in a low emission aircraft fits our belief in how sustainable aviation can meet the need of the UK economy and extensive connectivity into the future.”
The link is the second high-profile PSO contract awarded to Eastern recently. Late last year it was confirmed that the carrier would operate a new air connection between London Gatwick and Cornwall Airport Newquay.