Local News for Wednesday 27th April 2016

Follow Her Majesty’s example says MP
Isles MP Angus MacNeil has suggested tourists should follow the Queen’s example and visit the Western Isles, a place he describes as ‘a great passion’ of Her Majesty. Mr MacNeil was speaking in the House of Commons last week during a special debate to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday. Mr MacNeil said:  “One of the Queen’s great passions is the islands, particularly the Outer Hebrides. Looking back on my speech 10 years ago, I praised her good sense in her choice of holiday that year—sailing round the Hebrides—to mark her 80th birthday. She visited Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Barra and Vatersay, where she has come many times, mostly informally. Since then I have met the Queen and asked her about the trip, and I can report happily to the House that she found it to be a very splendid occasion indeed. I encourage many others to follow the Queen’s example and I welcome those who come back for a revisit. I certainly hope Her Majesty has the chance to return to the islands that she has visited so often. Clearly, the Queen’s enjoyment of the Hebrides is more than formal — it is very personal”.

Record year for HIAL
Regional airport operator HIAL has handled more passengers than ever, according to latest figures for the last financial year. Of the 11 airports in the group, Barra has seen highest percentage growth, with a 10.5% rise against the previous year, and figures for this year’s first quarter showing numbers still rising. Barra airport celebrates its 80th year in operation this year, and continuers to top polls for the thrill of landing on the sands of Traigh Mhor. The airport group handled nearly 1.5 million passengers in 2015/16, up by more than 6000 on the previous year. Inverness Airport, the busiest in the group, added more than 13,000 passengers during the year. Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL, said: "This has been a good year for HIAL's airports. Despite the downturn in the energy sector, a key market for HIAL, passenger numbers increased during the year. We have worked hard to improve connectivity across our group, with new aircraft serving Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown and new air services due to launch at Inverness and Dundee. As a result of our strengthening route network, regional Scotland is now better connected than ever before." Among plans for the future there are set to be new flights to Heathrow and Amsterdam, while holiday airlines Thomson and First Choice have also confirmed new summer flights to Majorca in 2017.