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Exploring the socio-cultural impact of Scottish island airports.

Baxter, Graeme; Bloice, Lyndsay; Gray, David


Graeme Baxter


This paper explores the social importance of small, local airports to Scottish island communities, and the roles that they might play in maintaining cultural identity and a sense of place. It draws upon studies conducted in three communities: Benbecula and Kirkwall, each of which has airports with long histories; and the Isle of Skye, where there have been no air passenger services for over 30 years, but where efforts to reintroduce such services are ongoing. It considers how small, remote airports contribute to social and cultural value in a number of ways, generating benefits beyond those typically reflected in conventional economic analyses. These include: providing ‘lifeline’ services, particularly in enabling patient access to specialist healthcare; maintaining links with family, friends and the wider diaspora; overcoming perceived remoteness and isolation; acting as socio-cultural arenas in their own right; and being regarded as important symbols of local history, culture and identity.


BAXTER, G., BLOICE, L. and GRAY, D. 2021. Exploring the socio-cultural impact of Scottish island airports. Scottish affairs [online], 30(3), pages 311-336. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 8, 2021
Online Publication Date Jul 31, 2021
Publication Date Aug 31, 2021
Deposit Date Mar 11, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 11, 2021
Journal Scottish affairs
Print ISSN 0966-0356
Electronic ISSN 2053-888X
Publisher Edinburgh University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 3
Pages 311-336
Keywords Benbecula; Kirkwall; Photo elicitation; Scottish island airports; Skye; Socio-cultural impact
Public URL


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