The next contract to run the Public Service Obligation (PSO) air routes from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra will contain significant service improvements, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay has announced.
The new contract will incorporate new specifications to better serve passengers, including:
Increasing return trips to Tiree and Barra to two per day on Monday-Saturday.
Bringing forward the start date of Sunday services to Campbeltown from June to May.
Extending Sunday services to Tiree and Barra to operate all year round.
The tendering process for the contract will get underway on April 7th 2015. It will be awarded by the end of July, with the next contract period expected to commence in October to coincide with the start of the winter timetable.
Mr Mackay said: “These air links are vital to the local economies of Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra and I want to make sure they are delivering the best service possible for the communities they serve.
“The flights transport people, goods and services, playing a crucial role for service industries and ensuring that residents have access to specialist healthcare. Direct air links also enable visitors to reach the islands easily, boosting local tourism.
“We have listened to representatives of these communities to find out what we could do better and have built improved specifications into the next contract to make sure the flights are supporting people, businesses and tourism.
“We have also purchased two new planes for the next operator to fly on the routes, so this will encourage greater competition during the tender process and also offer an improved passenger experience for travellers once they enter service.
“We are committed to supporting our remote communities and these improved air links will help do that.”
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, said: “The impending arrival of these new aircraft, and the promise of additional capacity on all three routes, is welcome news for the communities of Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.
“Air travel provides an important social and economic lifeline for those communities and this investment in new aircraft will have a positive impact for local business and tourism. We look forward to working with the next operator to ensure the continued success of these important routes.”