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Oban Airport to become Highlands and Islands hub?

Old 28th Aug 2001, 11:50
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The Guvnor
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From today's Business AM

Oban airport could be Highlands and Islands hub
by Jim Gough
Published: 00:05 GMT, Aug 28, 2001

OBAN airport could become a regional hub to service the Highlands and Islands.

Argyll and Bute Council, which owns the airport, said last night that an application to run scheduled flights would be lodged with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Paul Keegan, the managing director of Total Logistics Concepts, which operates the airport, welcomed the local authority's decision. But he warned that a major investment would be needed to bring the facility up to CAA standards.

He said: "It's a positive move, but there is a long way to go. We would need an infrastructure upgrade before building up to a scheduled service.

"Ideally we would like all the island services to be run through Oban, with a link possibly to Prestwick, which is a low-cost airport.

When we took over, there was an average of 80 [aircraft] visits a year. That has increased to 1,300 last year. We had people travelling in from Brussels and Madrid on business jets."

Four years ago, Total Logistics Concepts took over responsibility for the landing strip and refuelling facilities which were used during the Second World War. The company will bid for a franchise to run an expanded service if the CAA bid succeeds.

Argyll and Bute Council has set up a committee chaired by the Oban North councillor, David Webster, to formulate the application and seek funds for upgrading from the Scottish executive through the Highland partnership programme.

Mr Webster said: "It will open up business opportunities and develop tourism as the airport is so close to island ferry links."
 
Old 28th Aug 2001, 13:39
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Hope Oban does well, but isn't Inverness the Hub for the Highlands and Islands?
Glasgow also serves most of the destinations around the West and North West, they have plenty of low cost airlines too!!!
In fact Glasgow probably now has more low cost flights than Prestwick.

Oban is a very pretty place though !

PG

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Old 28th Aug 2001, 14:25
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Would never work IFR. The curved approach to avoid terrain makes the old Hong Kong around the corner seem easy. The general weather although much the same as Inverness, experiences a lot of poor viz days. However Inverness has a good approach path especially in the prevailing SW conditions, Oban has some frame cracking terrain. Still the service there is friendly.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 19:12
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With NRDK on this one. Oban would be a performance nightmare. Also, its remoteness from any major business community would not appeal to any regional carriers IMHO; perhaps only to tourist hoppers from GLA or EDI.

PK is a good guy & must be commended for his promotional efforts, despite his recent well-publicised brush with the CAA resulting in a "jammy" escape!
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 19:33
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Gotta agree with NRDK and Kiltie - lovely area, but as for being a hub - not really feasible. The town of Oban is lovely, the local Uiske Beatha is wonderfully smooth drop, and some friends own a nice little chalet complex just outside, within reach of some of the best walking scenery I've ever seen. No way can it be called a major centre of population, though.

But North Connel has some horribly drastic cumulogranite around...
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 20:17
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One of my favourites: http://www.awa.dk/whisky/oban.htm
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 21:55
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Remember the days of the LC Oban, Mull, Coll service, Ok it's not Europe, but the airfield did have schedules services in the past.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 22:19
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Yes no sig, all that and more is on the cards for the future. Some folks on here do not know what they are talking about.

The future is bright, the future is Oban Airport.
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 22:28
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Be interesting to see someone make a go of it, but operationally it's always going to be limited by terrain and weather.

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Old 28th Aug 2001, 22:32
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Although it initially sounded quite ridiculous, I really do hope that Oban becomes busier. It really is an amazing place to visit for a weekend trip with the potential girlfriend.

My experience with PK is limited but he's a great guy and has devoted a massive chunk of his life to the place. I wish him, and Oban, the best of luck for the future.

Oban: a great place for the budding PPL to visit (even if the final approach looks like a boomerang).

CF
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Old 28th Aug 2001, 22:52
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Gotta agree with what has been said earlier, flew in there a few times, in fair weather fine but with the hills and trees to the north can make for interesting approaches in bad weather so can't see it being the hub but you never know, any sign of extra air services has to be good for the economy / consumer.
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 02:37
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Island Air, I appreciate your enthusiasm. However, you may find that such enthusiasm needs to be tempered with a little realism. Unless you're operating only Islanders and Twotters, it will be difficult to make a go of scheduled services. As 10W says, the weather (apart from anything else) is problematical. Terrain will make installing an ILS difficult, and you need the business to pay for it. If you merely provide an NDB or a LLZ approach, you are unlikely for a lot of the year to get in.

You need transport links to local towns (Oban is rather more than a 5-minute stroll away).

And finally, you need to convince aircraft operators that they can make a go of such an unfriendly "hub".

Good luck!
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Old 29th Aug 2001, 08:23
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As an Obaner (now in GLA) I really hope they make a go of it, but I have got to agree with the comments here, surely its going to take more than a bit on convincing to get operators (Loganair?????) to decide its viable. Inverness simply has quite a considerable edge. The weather is honestly really not that good most of the time in winter with really bad vis and an interesting approach (IFR approach at all at the moment?). However I do know that Connel has been much busier than lately with the intervention of PK and I think that there is definetly still potential for expansion so good luck to them. Better transport link to Oban would be a must as without a car North Connel is a bit away. You would have to borrow the phone in the Glider club`s hut to phone a taxi And what will happen when the RAF make their annual visit and use the airfield as an exercise area. Truth be told I`ve heard this a few times in recent years in the Oban Times.

Good luck to them, it would make my day to fly a shceduled service into Connel.

[ 29 August 2001: Message edited by: BreakRight ]
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 01:55
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Runway length?!
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 02:40
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I been to airfields where the terrain issues etc. have been worse than North Connel. Its all possible with the right aircraft, 146/RJ and the likes might do it. Approach aids, procedures of course are issue with the hill to the north, but as with all these types of airfields the travelling public can accept the delays/cancellations if the weathers poor on the day. After all, if my history is correct, coastal command and the RAF were operating out of there during the war.

[ 29 August 2001: Message edited by: no sig ]
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 11:00
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If you think Oban would have a challenging instrument approach, have a look at Vagar in the Faroes which has IAPs to both runways, or Narsasuaq for that matter.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 12:55
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We're all aware that there are far more challenging approaches around the world than Oban. The implication is that it would be difficult to licence an instrument procedure without serious public transport performance degradation in terms of the runway length available, clearways etc. Realistically, I don't think a schedule would survive from a consumer support point of view; and even then without lengthening the runway it would be limited perhaps say to Twin Otters or Islanders. (yes, I am perfectly aware larger types such as C130s have been in without problems but they are not regulated in the environment public transport is).
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 17:01
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Spot on, Kiltie.

An instrument approach is an essential to run commercial services, which then has to be maintained. That costs money.

Of course you could fly a 146 in there, no problem. Where are all the paying punters going to come from, though?

From the point of view of general terrain, weather, population etc, the area is not dissimilar to Eniskillen in N.Ireland where the airport (St. Angelo) used to be served by Jersey European (as it then was) by a Shed out of City of Derry (I believe) about twice a week in the tourist season. It has a small NDB but no published approach procedure. There simply is not the business to sustain a regular scheduled service.
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 17:27
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I knew PK in the past, and he is a real enthusiastic guy, all the best to him in his endeavours.

As for the airfield, I seem to remember seeing worse approach scenarios at places like Sondestrom/Innsbruck/Hong Kong etc. Though I do accept that there is more business activity in HK than the Mull ferry provides for Oban!! Only kidding guys. Mine's a pint in The Gathering

SuckSqueezBangBlaw!
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Old 30th Aug 2001, 19:01
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Oban Airport's main problem is the local council - they commissioned, at great expense, some consultant who said that the approaches are completely impossible. PK then had the Scottish Airports CAA Inspector look over the place - who came up with a completely different view.

It seems that in that particular 'rotten burgh' there are one or more Councillors who may well have close links to a particular developer who has a keen interest in the airport as a prospective site for holiday homes - and who also, coincidentally, owns an unusable site to the south that he has suggested would make an excellent airport!

Interestingly, the one of the main transportation departments of the Scottish Executive is being moved up to Oban - and they definitely need decent air links!

I think this is a case of "watch this space" - but at the same time, don't hold your breath whilst doing it!

10W, Oban's weather is very actually very similar to that of PIK. In the same way that Arran's mountains shield PIK from the worst of the westerly weather, so does Mull shield Oban. The Met Office is setting up a weather station at Oban, and TAFS will be produced shortly.

[Edited for seplilgn!]

[ 31 August 2001: Message edited by: The Guvnor ]
 

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