Labour welcomes air fares help

Flybe plane.
Flybe plane.

Highlands & Islands MSP and Labour transport spokesperson, David Stewart, has congratulated a group set up to campaign for better air fares after The Scottish Government agreed to increase the public subsidy to 50 percent.

The campaign team, including all the supporters and volunteers, championed for cheaper fares to and from the Scottish Islands and a more reliable service from Loganair and Flybe. Yesterday (6/10/15) the Scottish Government announce they will increase the discount to 50 percent.

In a matter of days after launching, the campaign group secured over 14,000 followers.

After meetings between the operator and Scott Preston and his team, Loganair announced on 8th September 2015, that it was introducing a new compassionate travel policy on its 19 Scottish routes to give eligible customers access to a 50 percent discounted fare in times of a family emergency.

The compassionate fare, offered the reduced rate flights and flexibility to customers who need to make bookings at short notice on compassionate grounds.

Yesterday, Transport and Islands Minister, Derek Mackay, announced that from 1 January ticket costs will be cut by 50%.The Air Discount Scheme currently offers a 40% reduction in prices.

The discount is available on certain routes to people in Caithness and north west Sutherland, Colonsay, Islay, Jura, Northern and Western isles.

Mr Mackay also announced a freeze on ferry fares for 2016-17 across the Scottish government subsidised services.

David Stewart said “Well done to Scott Preston, James Stewart and all their supporters, who came together as a community and brought pressure to bear on the Government to do something to reduce the crippling cost of air fares to and from the islands. There was cross Party support for this campaign. I also wrote to the Transport Minister, questioned him on the issue in the Scottish Parliament and met with him to discuss proposals. I am delighted for the good of islanders and all who visit them, that the Government have been forced to act”.

Speaking about the freeze of the price of ferry fares, David Stewart said “Again what we are talking about here is lifeline services. The people from our islands rely on ferries or air travel, not to mention those who wish to visit and in doing so support the local economy. Ferry fares could not keep rising and it is interesting that the Scottish Government have announced a freeze for the year 2016/17, as this is the period when the tendering process for these routes is to be awarded.”