Highland Airways was an airline based in Inverness, Scotland. It ceased trading on 24 March 2010 after failing to secure new investment. The airline operated passenger and freight charters as well as scheduled services from its main base at Inverness Airport. Other services included newspaper distribution to the northern and Western Isles and, until recently, charter services for corporate clients. Highland Airways was under talks for a buyout by Perth-based, Air Charter Scotland. Aircraft were also based at Cardiff Airport.
The company held a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Type A Operating Licence. It was permitted to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.
The airline was established and started operations in 1991. It was founded as Air Alba, operating for four years as a flying school. It was renamed Highland Airways in February 1997. When the newspaper industry relocated their charter departure point for Scottish islands to Inverness in 1998, Highland won the contract to provide two BAe Jetstream 31 aircraft per day for this task. One of these aircraft also carried business and leisure passengers on its "Island hopper" service as well as freight.
Highland also expanded into contract work for the oil industry based in Aberdeen during 1998. Highland aircraft facilitated crew changes, business delegations, emergency freight or technician movements for the industry, meaning Highland Airways aircraft were regular visitors to the west coast of Ireland, the Faroe Islands and destinations in Norway including Stavanger and Bergen. The airline also began operating corporate charter services, most notably for BAE Systems, providing a daily service between Glasgow and the company's Filton Aerodrome, as well as flights for financial companies, electronics, utilities, whisky and the public sector. Highland have largely moved away from oil industry work, and after recent concerns about the financial stability of the company the BAE contract has been terminated, and is now operated by Eastern Airways.
General aviation and ground handling facilities were provided by Highland at Stornoway and Benbecula, servicing both the airline itself and other operators.
Experience with Jetstream and Cessna aircraft allowed the airline to occasionally carry out engineering work for third party operators at its engineering facility in Inverness.
Highland also won a 5-year contract to operate, crew and maintain two Cessna F406 reconnaissance aircraft on behalf of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency. These aircraft were based in Inverness and wore SFPA markings.
In March 2007 Highland Airways underwent a management buyout from Atlantic Holdings led by A Mossman and had 100 employees (at January 2008). The buyout had been supported by an investment of £620,000 by the public Highlands and Islands Enterprise development agency.
Highland Airways operated an intra-Wales flight connecting the north (Anglesey Airport) to the south (Cardiff Airport). Highland operated a BN2 Islander aircraft from Oban to Coll, Colonsay and Tiree under a contract with Argyll and Bute Council
On 24 March 2010, the airline was placed into voluntary administration, and all flights were cancelled, with no further bookings being taken. Highland Airways said that PricewaterhouseCoopers was taking over operation of the airline, and planned to transfer the services operated by Highland Airways to new operators.
At the time of its closure in March 2010, Highland Airways operated services to the following scheduled destinations:Scotland
Benbecula - Benbecula Airport
Coll - Coll Airport
Colonsay - Colonsay Airport
Inverness - Inverness Airport (Base)
Oban - North Connel
Stornoway - Stornoway Airport
Tiree - Tiree Airport
Anglesey - Anglesey Airport
Cardiff - Cardiff Airport
Service between Benbecula and Stornoway was under contract from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The Highland Airways fleet consisted of the following eleven aircraft at the time of its closure in March 2010: