The first scheduled flight in and out of Wick John O’Groats Airport since September 2019 has taken off.
Low passenger numbers as a result of high ticket pricing meant routes to both Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports were axed leading to fears over the future of the terminal in Wick.
But following a community outcry flights have been reinstated to give locals connectivity to the rest of Scotland.
The new lifeline service will operate up to twice daily each way on weekdays and Sundays after a contract was awarded to Eastern Airways to run a Public Service Obligation (PSO) for three years.
It means the government subsidised fares will start from £39.99 while Eastern Airways say the flight schedule has been designed to provide maximum opportunity for connections through Aberdeen Airport and world-wide connectivity via London Heathrow with British Airways and Amsterdam with KLM.
Adam Wheatley, managing director at Eastern Airways said: “It’s such a rural area and the connectivity required for business and leisure in this area is very difficult by car or train to get into Aberdeen or other areas.
“So you can do day business from here now or you can link on the many domestic and international flights.”
There are hopes it will encourage visitors to the area too which will in-turn help to recover the economy and hospitality industry following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Andrew Mackay has three hotel restaurants across Caithness and has faced continuous setbacks since flights were halted.
He said: “Caithness is unique I suppose, it’s like an island without the island status – we are really quite cut off and not having the airport was a big drawback.
“The last three months have been really tough because there have been no lockdown protocols so it has been a really tough last quarter.
“Hopefully things like this opening up the economy and opening up the area will bring more things to it.”
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