16 October, etc.venues Monument
30 October, JW Marriott Grosvenor House
1st November 2023, etc.venues County Hall
Highland Airways chairman Bob MacLeod
Highland Airways, the long established Inverness-based regional airline, has won the first ever Welsh PSO (public service obligation) route sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government (subject to no objections being received to the procurement process). Highland will offer twice daily Monday to Friday flights linking Cardiff International Airport with Anglesey (RAF Valley). A fully pressurised 19-seat Jetstream 31 will the used for the service. The airline plans to introduce the route in April.
”We are very pleased and honoured to be awarded this first air route in Wales promoted for the needs of the community." said Highland Airways commercial director Basil O”Fee. "Clearly our experience in serving the remote Western Isles all the year around was a major factor in securing this competitive contract. Our selected aircraft type is also ideal for the anticipated usage and route sector length. Since 2001 we have been providing scheduled passenger flights from Inverness to and within the Western Isles with passenger numbers similar to those anticipated for this operation. We also undertake a range of other passenger freight and reconnaissance aerial work.
"The new route will be of great benefit to Wales from a commercial and tourism point of view. It is subsidised, but in our view is capable of being developed into a fully stand-alone and successful route. It opens up a new era in terms of Welsh national integration through better links between the north and south. Our timetable will be designed to permit a day's business to be achieved at either end of the route."
Minister for Enterprise Innovation and Networks Andrew Davies said: "Air services have an important role to play within the framework of an integrated transport system, and as Minister I am keen to exploit their full potential. I am delighted that we can now look forward to the start of this new air service between Anglesey and Cardiff International Airport."
The news has not been greeted with universal enthusiasm however. Welsh press sources cite Friends of the Earth Cymru, who argue that the subsidy, rumoured to be around ”1.6m ($3.12m), could have been better spent on upgrading rail services between Bangor and Cardiff, although at more than five hours duration, the journey is lengthy.
Established in 1991, Highland Airways has provided scheduled PSO flights for Western Isles Council since 2001. The Inverness base includes the company's own modern hangarage and internal engineering support. The company is also involved in offshore and oil related business with aircraft based in Aberdeen and corporate shuttles with a further two aircraft based in NW England.