The two new planes that will operate on the Scottish Government’s Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes will enter service this week, Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay, has announced.
The Twin Otter DHC6-400 aircraft will be deployed on the routes from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.
The 19-seat twin engine planes arrived in Glasgow last month and have now completed the certification process. They were manufactured by Viking Air Limited at the company’s base in Vancouver, Canada.
Speaking at Barra Airport, following a training run in the new plane, Mr Mackay said: “I’m pleased to see that the aircraft are now ready to be deployed and start serving the communities that depend on them.
“The flights play a crucial role transporting people and goods, providing vital support for the service industries, fisheries and agriculture.
“They will also help boost local tourism by enabling visitors to reach the islands and ensuring our PSO routes continue to be reliable and attractive to travellers.
“The purchase of our own aircraft will encourage more competition for the next contract to operate the PSO routes. That contract has been enhanced, with more flights and better timings to offer local residents and businesses, as well as tourists, an improved service. The first set of enhancements comes into effect on the Tiree route at the start of next month.
“It’s been fantastic to experience this journey in the new planes first hand, especially landing on the iconic beach runway at Barra Airport.
“I have no doubt the new aircraft will be welcomed by the remote communities that rely on these services to keep them connected.”
Michael Galbraith, station manager for Barra Airport, said: “These purpose built aircraft will ensure that some of Scotland’s most beautiful but remote communities enjoy improved access to the mainland.
“Designed specifically for these routes, these larger aircraft will deliver an important social and economic boost for the region, connecting businesses and communities, and supporting inbound tourism. Barra has recently been named as one of the most scenic airport landings in the world and enjoyed strong growth during the last financial year. We hope the arrival of the new aircraft will increase the flow of tourist traffic into Barra.
“HIAL is delighted to have played its part in commissioning the new aircraft. They are a valuable asset for these communities and we look forward to working with the next PSO operator to ensure these aircraft are well utilised for the benefit of the communities they serve.”