Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (Hial) reported a slight dip in passenger numbers for 2018.

A fall of 0.7% to 1.762 million was recorded across the company’s 11 airports.

Inverness airport, the largest in the group, saw numbers rise by 1.8% to 903,157 from 887,123 in 2017.

Benbecula in the Western Isles reported the largest percentage increase in passenger journeys, up 6.2% at 37,224.

Sumburgh, which serves the Shetlands and the North Sea sector, saw passenger movements dip 8.5% to 372,064.

Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Tiree all reported increases year-on-year.

Barra, Campbeltown, Dundee and Wick John O’Groats all saw slight drops in passenger journeys compared to the previous year.

Hial managing director Inglis Lyon said the performance represented a consolidation of demand across the group’s 11 airports.

He added: “Inverness airport continues to grow and is playing an ever more important role in improving connectivity to and from the Highlands. Its international connections and regular flights to hub airports in Amsterdam, London and Dublin make it an attractive proposition for travellers.”

British Airways is starting double daily flights from Inverness and KLM will operate up to three flights per day to Amsterdam in the peak summer season.

Lyon added: “The overall figures illustrate the need for continued investment and support in regional airports that offer connectivity for the communities they serve.

“We continue to work with our colleagues at Transport Scotland to nurture and develop our network and ensure long-term sustainability for our airports.

“Hial will continue to invest in our airports and we continuously work to improve and enhance the passenger experience for all those who use our facilities.”