Strikes will shut three islands airports completely for two days, bosses say

Bosses at Highlands and Islands Airports said three of their airports would be completely closed during the action.

Sumburgh Airport
Sumburgh Airport

Three airports serving Scotland’s remote island communities will be closed completely when staff there walk out on strike for two days later this month.

Bosses at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) have confirmed that the action by the Unite trade union on December 19 and 22 will result in the closure of its airports on the Outer Hebridean islands of  Barra and Benbecula, as well as Sumburgh Airport on Shetland.

Stornoway Airport on the Isle of Lewis will only be able to operate on a limited basis, and will be open between 1pm and 4.45pm on both days, while Kirkwall Airport in Orkney will be open between 7.15am and 1pm, for inter-island flights only.

The remaining six airports in the Hial group: Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Tiree and Wick John O’Groats – will be operating as normal on both days.

The strike action comes after the union members rejected the 5% pay rise they have been offered, with almost three quarters (73.5%) backing strike action in a ballot.

However, Hial managing director Inglis Lyon insisted the union’s demands were “unrealistic”.

He said: “We deeply regret the disruption and inconvenience to our airline partners, passengers, and local communities that this action will cause.

“Against the backdrop of unprecedented financial pressures, we presented an enhanced pay offer to colleagues that maximised the flexibility within the Scottish Government’s pay policy, which Hial is bound by.

“We recognise the challenges colleagues face due to inflationary pressures and the cost-of-living crisis.

“However, the claim for a rise of at least RPI is unrealistic, and any further offer must be met from cost savings within existing budgets.

“We will continue dialogue with the trade unions in an attempt to avoid further industrial action.”

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