MORE than 90% of Skye residents have backed plans for the restoration of air services to the island.

The support emerged after 800 responses were received to a public consultation to bring back the service, which last flew between Glasgow and the island in 1988. Islanders have been faced with long journey times to central Scotland since the loss of the Loganair service.

Now the independent research carried out at a cost of £15,000 has shown huge support from people on Skye and Lochalsh.

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Aviation data analysts RDC Aviation were commissioned to HITRANS, the statutory regional transport partnership, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Highland Council to conduct the study.

People currently have a rail journey of seven-and-a-half hours by rail from Kyle of Lochalsh or five-and-a-half hours by bus or car from Portree. Skye and Lochalsh, which has 12,000 residents, is the only area of the Highlands with significant population which has such lengthy travel times without an alternative faster air service.

The study found 91% would be likely or very likely to use an air service; more than 90% believed air services would help reduce the perception of Skye as being remote.

More than 90% agreed it would be important for helping to sustain Skye's economy as a whole Glasgow and Edinburgh airports have been cited as being the most attractive.

Business, family and leisure are the most important reasons for air services, though the being able to connect to other onward connections were also very important.

Skye councillor Drew Millar said: "They confirm there is undeniable demand for the restoration of an air service.

Hoteliers and other businesses are convinced that air it could make a huge different to the tourist season. But they all believe it is vital a new service would not just go to the central belt but would connect to elsewhere in the UK."

Final submissions are being invited over the holiday period as the survey will close in the middle of next month.