HIGHLANDS and Islands Airports Ltd (Hial) has announced that it will have to scale back on its air traffic modernisation plans due to financial challenges. 

The state-owned regional airports operator has previously abandoned a proposal to centralise the service for some of its airports. 

It had been working on a new modernisation plan but has now said there is not enough funding available. 

Hial is discussing the situation with Transport Scotland. 

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Chairwoman Lorna Jack said: “Our overriding focus is to deliver safe, reliable and sustainable aviation services for the communities we serve. 

“Like many other businesses, Hial must reappraise priorities and spending options and make difficult decisions based on the extraordinary circumstances we are all facing as global economic pressures impact our day-to-day activities and our future plans.”

Hial runs a total of 11 airports across Scotland in the Highlands, Argyll, Western Isles and Northern Isles as well as Dundee Airport. 

In January, it dropped plans to centralise some of its air traffic control operations. 

Controllers at Dundee, Inverness, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh were to be relocated to a new hub. 

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The Prospect union opposed the move as it said it would have put nearly 50 jobs at risk. 

Hial said the plan no longer formed part of its proposed modernisation of air traffic control. 

A separate plan to downgrade air traffic services for Benbecula and Wick John O’Groats airports are also to be reviewed.