A Highland councillor has raised hopes that air services could return to Wick by the end of the year.
The Aberdeen and Edinburgh routes to Wick Airport were both grounded by the onset of the pandemic early last year but had both before then been struggling to make ends meet.
Moves to reinstate them received a major boost in February when the Scottish Government pledged £4million over the next four years to subsidise scheduled services.
And now the newly-appointed chairman of the Wick John O’Groats consultative committee, Councillor Raymond Bremner, has pledged to work towards a “bright future” for the airport.
Skeleton service by end of 2021
“It will not be an easy task, but I look forward to the challenge of building on the valuable work which has been done to ensure a bright future for the airport,” he said.
The committee wants the UK Government to match the Public Service Obligation (PSO) commitment made by Holyrood, which would enable them to get a “skeleton” service in place by the end of the year.
Highland Council has committed £300,000 to the PSO.
Mr Bremner added “Based on that, partners are working on the assumption of a final funding package of around £2.3m per year for a PSO.
“We are hoping to have some kind of skeleton service in place by the end of this year and ramp this up through 2022.”
Mr Bremner said it has been established Aberdeen and Edinburgh remain the destinations that far north businesses need both for day returns and onward connections.
Caithness Chamber of Commerce has been championing the PSO bid and previously commissioned a report to support the case.
Mr Bremner took over as consultative committee chairman from the chamber’s chief executive Trudy Morris.
Mr Bremner said: “Trudy has worked tirelessly over the years to support and promote Wick John O’Groats Airport and the communities that it serves.
“It will not be an easy task, but I look forward to the challenge of building on the valuable work that Trudy and others have done over the past decade.”