There has been no news about the scheduled air service to the central belt from any sources, not that this is a surprise as the tourist season is in full swing and people have other things to do. You may think that I’m being a bit cynical when I say that, but most people that work in the seasonal industries on Skye have only the sometimes all to brief summer to earn their income for the year. Although there are employers on the Island providing year round employment, there are many more providing seasonal work.
The report mentioned earlier in this blog concluded that there would be a requirement for 14 staff, possibly less if there was the possibility of sharing the fire fighting staff. As I have already said, having an air service from the central belt to Skye would be a real plus for me. But having glanced through the report yet again, I feel that it would be better to push for one of the more expensive options. My reasoning behind this is simple, the better the facilities the more likely they are to be utilised. I mean building a half decent hanger would likely mean that aircraft would be based at Ashaig, given the geographical position of Ashaig in relation to the other island airstrips possibly for more than one service.
It would be great if we had a decent facility on the island, but alas we don’t. We have a flying club equipped with a number of microlight aircraft, but I don’t think that they are based at the air strip on a permanent basis – possibly due to the lack of hangarage? As I have gone over the options in the report, I’ve come to the “personal” conclusion that we really should aim for the option where the airstrip becomes an airport for the area. For me the preferred option would be Option D, where the runway is extended to 950m from the current 770m. Even although there would be some impact on the SSSI at the North East end of the runway and the costs would be much higher, this to me is the better option allowing for bigger aircraft albeit at a restricted load level of 70 to 89% that’s 25 to 32 available seats per flight depending on the loading. This gives at least 25,000 available seats on the route, probably for not much more cost per passenger.
As for the history of aviation on Skye, at the 1932 Skye Games there were pleasure flights around the bay and further afield to Stornaway and St Kilda. The seaplane “Cloud of Iona” managed to generate long queues all day, introducing many on the island to the joy of flying. There were probably other events earlier than this, but this is currently the earliest reference that I can find at the moment. During the second world war there were a number of aircraft incidents in Skye, sadly there were a number of fatalities and a number of the wreck sites are still visible if one knows where to look. Obviously there was the BEA and Loganair services in the 70’s and 80’s.