HIE Takes Over Cairngorm Mountain

Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government's economic and community development agency for the area, has taken control of the Cairngorm snowsports centre. But whether it will operate as normal at all this winter still remains to be seen.

Fairly standard weather at the Cairn Gorm top station (No its not my snow mobile), 39 kb
Fairly standard weather at the Cairn Gorm top station (No its not my snow mobile)
© Martin Thompson, Feb 2005

HIE owns Cairngorm Estate and had leased the resort to operator Cairngorm Mountain Limited (CML), and its parent company Natural Retreats, on a 25-year lease. However in November CML went into administration following 'unsustainable cash flow problems' and a series of contentious decisions including scrapping the tows in Coire na Ciste.

In October the Cairngorm funicular, the key uplift for skiers at the site, was closed due to structural problems - the result, many believe, of poor maintenance. A report on its state, and the possibility of re-opening this season, is pending.

HIE's own record at Cairngorm is mixed. In 2010, the agency was criticised by politicians for the huge cost of building and running the funicular, to which HIE provided over £19m out of the total £26m.

Staff and other assets will now transfer to a new company, which will trade as Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Limited. The operators say they will honour season tickets purchased for this winter season.

Charlotte Wright, HIE chief executive, said engagement with local business and community groups will continue to be important. She added:

"We are very pleased to have worked with the administrators to achieve a really positive outcome from a highly challenging situation. The deal that we've reached will protect jobs and bring stability to the business, which plays an important role in the wider local economy.

"The immediate focus of the new operating company is to ensure the best possible experience for visitors this winter, particularly while the funicular is inactive, and bring some stability for staff and local businesses that rely on Cairngorm. This includes operating the new snowmaking equipment and ski tows, as well as catering and facilities at the base station."

As far as we know, climbers, walkers and ski tourers should still be able to use the car parks as normal this winter...

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