The process to buy two new planes to operate on the Scottish Government’s Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes has entered the formal tendering phase, Transport Minister Keith Brown announced today (Thursday).
The new aircraft will be used on the routes from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.
The Invitation to Tender document is available from Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) and the tender process will run until the 22nd of August.
Mr Brown said: “We are committed to buying new aircraft for use on the Public Service Obligation routes, so I’m very pleased to see HIAL get the formal tendering process underway.
“Whilst the process is open to all aircraft manufacturers and suppliers, the specification is for twin engine aircraft. The unique operating environment at Barra will also factor into the aircraft types we can consider.
“The aim of the process is to select the tenderer which represents the best value for money and the criteria includes emphasis on quality and as well as price. I want these planes to enter service as soon as possible, so delivery time will also be taken into account.
“These air services are crucial to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra, connecting these communities and transporting goods and services. These local economies are based on service industries, tourism, fisheries and agriculture.
“The reliance on tourism in particular means that direct air links are vital to enable visitors to reach the islands easily.
“The current planes operating on the routes are owned by Loganair, so purchasing our own aircraft will also encourage more competition when the contract for the PSO routes comes up for renewal.
“We will also be engaging with passengers, local businesses and other interests on the specifications for the next contract period so we can consider what enhancements can be made to these services, making best use of the new aircraft.
“It’s taken us longer than planned to get to this point as we needed to consider factors affecting the tendering process and wanted to look at all the options available to us.
“We also wanted to consider the wider impact of reviewing capacity and replacing aircraft on PSO routes in general.
“However, the communities served by these services can now look forward to seeing new planes operating on the routes. We want these services to continue to be reliable and attractive to travellers, and these new planes will help achieve that.”
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of airport operator HIAL said: “The new aircraft will ensure that some of Scotland’s most remote communities remain well connected to the mainland.
“These routes provide a vital social and economic lifeline for the communities of Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra and through the PSO system we have been able to ensure continuity of service over many years, bringing huge benefits to families and businesses across these communities.
“With so much of tourism, commerce and industry reliant on fast, efficient links to key markets, this tender process marks an important milestone in the future of these lifeline routes.”
“The principle reason for purchasing these aircraft is to encourage more entrants into the PSO process and hopefully drive efficiencies, as the operators will not be responsible for ongoing leasing and financing costs. In the long term, this is a good investment for the communities of Campbeltown, Barra and Tiree.”