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A9 dualling prompts call for Wick flights to central belt

By Alan Hendry

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Loganair withdrew its Wick/Edinburgh service in March 2020. Picture: Alan Hendry
Loganair withdrew its Wick/Edinburgh service in March 2020. Picture: Alan Hendry

Dualling work on the A9 south of Inverness over the coming decade could make scheduled air links between Caithness and the central belt an attractive option, it has been suggested.

Aberdeen is the only destination served by Wick John O'Groats Airport, with flights having been reinstated by Eastern Airways in April 2022.

Loganair withdrew its Wick/Edinburgh service in March 2020, pointing to a steep decline in passenger numbers with a further drop in bookings caused by the pandemic.

At the end of last year the Scottish Government pledged to dual the remaining single-carriageway sections of the A9 between Inverness and Perth by the end of 2035 – 10 years later than the original 2025 deadline.

The inevitability of major A9 roadworks for years to come prompted Allan Bruce, vice-chairman of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council, to put forward the idea of flights from the far north to one of Scotland's two biggest cities.

"I certainly think, with the acceleration of doing the A9 dualling, that we're going to experience at least 10 years of pain on that road south of Inverness, no matter what way they go about it," Mr Bruce said at this week's monthly meeting of the community council.

"Surely we can alleviate some of the pressure off that road by flights going out of Caithness to Edinburgh or Glasgow."

Earlier, he had asked whether connections from Wick could be improved for business travellers continuing south from Aberdeen.

Mr Bruce asked Councillor Raymond Bremner if he could bring up the subject at the next meeting of the Wick John O’Groats Airport Consultative Committee, which he chairs.

Last month the government agency Transport Scotland announced that its support for the Wick/Aberdeen public service obligation (PSO) will remain in place in 2024/25.

At the time, Councillor Bremner, who is Highland Council leader, described it as testament to the hard work put in by everyone involved in supporting the route.

The case for continued funding was strengthened by a 25 per cent rise in passenger numbers at Wick, outperforming other airports across the Highlands and Islands Airports Limited network.

The PSO was secured after campaigning led by Caithness Chamber of Commerce.

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