Highlands and Islands Airports Limited is standing by its decision to introduce car parking charges at Sumburgh, following a meeting involving officials and politicians in Lerwick this afternoon.
Hial’s chairwoman Lorna Jack has insisted the charges must be rolled out from 1st July to help the airport authority balance the books.
However, she has insisted the organisation has a listening ear and has urged customers to take part in the passenger survey which was announced last week.
The 30 minute meeting was held with isles MSP Tavish Scott along with several council members and officials.
It follows concerns over Hial’s recent announcement that it would levy a £3-per-day charge to park at Shetland’s main airport.
“I wanted to tell them a bit about why we needed to do this. I hoped they might be supportive, but although they are supportive of Sumburgh Airport they are not supportive of car parking charges.
“I told them that we need to have a balance between the public subsidy element. Although Sumburgh has had tremendous growth and a really positive experience over the last five years, it still needs public subsidy.
“We’re required to balance the budget every year and we were asked to look at sources of commercial income.”
However, Mr Scott criticised Hial for failing to consider alternative funding measures.
“Attendees to the meeting today were unanimously opposed to the Hial parking charges. We left the chair of Hial in no doubt as to our opposition to the proposal and the strength of feeling on this issue. We gave numerous practical examples of the impact this imposition would have on our community and we expect Hial to reconsider this proposal.
“Furthermore, we offered alternative suggestions to Hial as to how they could balance their books. For example, Hial claim the charges would raise £150,000. This could instead be raised with a 40p airport landing charge. We asked HIAL to raise their additional funds using that approach.
“I look forward to meeting the minister for transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf, alongside the SIC, when he visits the islands this Friday. I will ask him to stop the charges and explore alternative ways Hial can meet its commitments without charging islanders excessive amounts to use our lifeline services.”