The project to provide a year-round service of flights to and from Wick John O’Groats Airport and Aberdeen under the current Public Service Obligation is set to benefit from the skills of a newly appointed project officer.
David Swanson, who grew up in Lybster, 13 miles from Wick, has taken on the role of Project Officer for the Wick Public Service Obligation, a role jointly funded by the Council and Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL).
After studying Philosophy at the University of Stirling, David took up a graduate placement role with Caithness Chamber of Commerce and moved back to the area.
In his ten years with them as Marketing and Communications Manager he supported the Caithness Transport Forum and Wick John O’Groats Airport Consultative Committee, playing a key role in the development of the original business case for the PSO and the successful partnership efforts to secure funding.
In his new role David will be working closely with Eastern Airways to oversee delivery of the contract to provide air services between Wick and Aberdeen.
This includes managing the integrity of the air service (ensuring punctuality, reliability, and affordability), on behalf of both service users and the PSO funders (Highland Council and Transport Scotland).
He will also work to promote the PSO route and to develop relationships with key stakeholders including airports, the tourism industry and the business communities in both the North Highland and Aberdeen areas.
Speaking about his new role, David said:
“I am delighted to take up this new and exciting role, supporting a vital, lifeline service for the region.
“I know just how important good connectivity is to this region, and the service from Wick to Aberdeen offers fantastic links not only to the rest of Scotland but to the wider UK and beyond.
“The feedback from the first few months of operation has been really positive, and I look forward to working closely with Eastern Airways to ensure that we continue to deliver a fantastic service to those living and working in the North Highlands.
“Looking to the future, we are on the cusp of a major shift in regional aviation as new, green aviation technologies start to come into service over the next few years, and I believe that the North Highlands has real potential to be a global leader in rolling out these new developments.
“I look forward to working with my new Council colleagues, local partners, and communities across the region to ensure the success of this PSO and to support new developments in green aviation across the region.”
Leader of The Highland Council, Councillor Raymond Bremner who is also Chair of the Wick John O’Groats Airport Consultative Committee is delighted that David has taken up the post.
“We fought long and hard to get the PSO in place and now that it is, there is a lot of hard work to be done.
“In his previous role with the Chamber of Commerce David showed great skill in connecting with all stakeholders and helping to drive forward out ambitious for the airport.
“He will continue to play a pivotal role as his remit also includes a range of activities around socio-economic development and enhanced connectivity.
“David’s role will be key in making sure that the PSO route is successful and that it delivers opportunities to the wider community across the region.
“I wish him every success.”
Mark Rouse, Managing Director of DSRL said:
“DSRL is delighted to support this important post which will endeavour to ensure the continuity of flights from Wick John O’Groats Airport.
“David is a perfect fit, having helped the Caithness Chamber of Commerce put together the business plan that helped bring the PSO to the far north.
“We urge the public and the business community to get behind him, use the flights as much as possible and we wish him all the best in his new job.”
Roger Hage, General Manager at Eastern Airways added:
“It is very refreshing to see the Highland Council engage with the appointment of David Swanson in a business focussed capacity to support their partnership with Eastern Airways in developing air services at Wick John O’Groats Airport to Aberdeen.
“David’s expertise, local knowledge and energy will make a difference when it comes to making the North Highland’s accessible to the wider UK and Europe via Aberdeen with the twice daily service.
“It is all about maximising the potential of the air service from this local airport.”
The service currently operates 24 flights a week Sunday to Friday, including 3 Sunday flights, 2 leaving Aberdeen and one leaving Wick.
The aircraft used is stationed overnight at Wick from Sunday to Tuesday to provide the community with early morning flights to Aberdeen leaving at 7.20am.
The flight schedule has been designed to provide maximum opportunity for onward / incoming connections through Aberdeen Airport both nationally and internationally including London Heathrow, Birmingham, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol, Southampton, Schiphol, Dublin, and Stavanger.
Fares start from £49.99, including £10 fuel surcharge, 10kg carry-on luggage and 15Kg in the hold.
Bookings can be made at www.easternairways.com