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Call for more Wick flights to connect to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Orkney

By Gordon Calder

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The air link between Wick and Aberdeen was reinstated in April 2022.
The air link between Wick and Aberdeen was reinstated in April 2022.

The public is “shouting” for flights between Caithness, Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as to Orkney, a Thurso community councillor has claimed.

Gill Arrowsmith wants to know if there is any possibility of exploring such an option which would complement the service run by Eastern Airways on the Wick to Aberdeen route. It operates under a Public Service Obligation (PSO) agreement between the company, Highland Council and the Scottish Government.

The suggestion – raised at the most recent meeting of the community council – was welcomed by other members, including Bert MacLeod, who said that in the past flights used to go between Edinburgh, Wick, Orkney and Shetland. “That was the case years ago,” he stated.

Community council secretary Iain Gregory said an increase in flights from Caithness to include places such as Orkney, Edinburgh and Glasgow “would be very much welcomed”.

Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor Struan Mackie explained that the present PSO is for flights between Wick and Aberdeen which has seen “a significant increase” in passenger numbers but said getting suitable aircraft on these proposed routes may be a problem.

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Asked to comment on the suggested expansion of flights from the far north, Maree Todd, the SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, said: “The rise in passenger numbers on the Wick to Aberdeen service is very welcome and certainly prompts a consideration of the case for additional routes, like a connection to Edinburgh or the islands.

“I know that many of my constituents valued the Edinburgh service in the past and would appreciate the flight being reinstated.

“There are undoubtedly commercial factors to consider but improving transport links between Caithness and the rest of Scotland offers substantial economic and social advantages. I’m always keen to see what more can be done to enhance connectivity.”

Trudy Morris, the chief executive of the Caithness Chamber of Commerce, said: “Transport connectivity plays a vital role in boosting the economy and improving connectivity in the region. Caithness Chamber of Commerce, both independently and as the facilitator of the Caithness Transport Forum, continuously advocates and campaigns for enhanced connectivity through road, rail, sea and air. The chamber has been a key supporter of the airport and PSO for many years.”

However, she added: “Securing air links is a challenging task, particularly when it comes to attracting regional airlines to operate routes and make them sustainable. A significant difficulty for rural communities, like ours in the north Highlands, is to achieve critical mass.

“The chamber and stakeholder partners are committed to finding ways to both develop new air routes and maintain the Wick/Aberdeen route currently in place. Future solutions to these challenges may lie in new sustainable technologies currently in development.”

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