I’m currently enjoying a short trip to Arran, Scotland’s seventh largest island. Home of the Isle of Arran distillery and a wide variety of stunning Scottish scenery.

Barra Airport landing

Barra's unique beach landing has been voted the world's most scenic

There’s no airport here, with Arran connected to the mainland via ferry services. But for a number of Scottish islands, aviation plays a vital role in social and economic welfare, in addition to bringing in tourists like me.

Scotland has a huge number of offshore islands – 790 in total, of which 130 are inhabited. Many of these, like Arran, connect to mainland via ferry, but a fair number have an airport or airstrip of some kind.

Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) operates most of these, with 11 airports under its management: Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Dundee, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick. The airports handle a combination of scheduled services and private charter flights.

HIAL is owned by Scottish Ministers and subsidised by the Scottish Government. In recognition of the vital, practical role aviation plays in these communities, flights from Scottish islands are exempt from Air Passenger Duty (APD). Since 1 April 2013, this tax now applies to private charter flights departing from all other UK locations. More about APD on private charter flights.

It’s not all about practicalities though of course. The scenery of Scotland’s islands is world-famous, and landing at some of these airports is an awe-inspiring experience in itself – luring tourists from all corners of the world. Notably Barra, which has previously been voted as the world’s most stunning landing spot in our Airport Approaches poll. At Barra, flights land on a beach runway in low tide, the only airport of its kind in the world.

For advice or prices for private charter flights to Scottish Islands, contact us or call our 24-hour team on +44 1747 642 777