Sumburgh Airport is ready to fight back against the economic woes with an ambitious summer schedule which will see almost 70 extra flights take off from the isles.
Members of the airport’s consultative committee heard flights would be departing three times daily for Edinburgh, following news the capital had remained popular among customers seeking to fly south.
Shetland’s link with Norway will continue with a summer service running to Bergen three days a week.
Attempts will also be made to increase demand for Aberdeen flights, with five daily departures to the Granite City.
Airport manager Nigel Flaws said there would be 69 flights in and out of Sumburgh over the summer months.
“That is pretty good given the current economic climate,” he said.
Nationally, the picture has looked pretty grim for the aviation industry for some time.
Overall, airlines are seeing a decline in passenger numbers, with Flybe registering a 15 per cent drop in UK domestic passengers.
Short cross-border routes, say, from Glasgow to Manchester, are down by 50 per cent.
However, early signs are showing a reasonable summer could be in prospect for Sumburgh.
Favourable exchange rates, and an expected influx of visitors from overseas thanks to VisitScotland’s promotion of the Homecoming, have led to quiet optimism among airline management.
Chairman Jimmy Smith, who also heads the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said demand for Edinburgh had remained buoyant because of connecting flights to London.
“Edinburgh flights are holding up because passengers are travelling on to London through BA.
“It’s faster, cheaper and you’ve got a choice of three airports to go to in London.
“That’s what the business community is telling me, whereas if you’re going to Aberdeen it doesn’t carry on from there.”