The Scottish Government must recognise the cost and reliability problems that islanders flying south are facing. Northern Isles MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur today met Transport Minister Derek Mackay in the Scottish Parliament. Scott and McArthur pressed the Scottish Government to consider all options:
• increasing the rate of Air Discount Scheme from 40 to 50% of the ticket price;
• reducing landing charges at airports owned by the government such as Sumburgh and Kirkwall.
• Introducing Public Service Obligations on certain routes. The Scottish Government have just bought new planes for services to Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown with better services for local people.
Tavish Scott said, “I welcome Derek Mackay’s interest in the problems we are facing. He has many options that could help and government must act in consultation with everyone who uses these lifeline services. I know from my time as Transport Minister that recognising the scale of the disruption that travellers face is one thing. A solution is another altogether and that is why I introduced ADS. Derek Mackay’s government has maintained that policy although sadly they have reduced the availability of ADS for some islanders. I welcome the Government’s intention to speak with Flybe and press the need for improvements to reliability, costs of tickets and the service. But government must also recognise what it can do and Liam and I proposed all the options should be explored to help.
“I also want to thank the 14,500 people who have joined the online campaign #Loganairplayfair. There is no doubt that Scott Preston’s work has pushed these issues up the political agenda and that is very good news.”
Liam McArthur said, “This was a useful meeting and an opportunity to underline the different concerns that now exist with regard to our lifeline air services. Some of the answers lie very directly with the Minister, including reversing the cuts made by this Scottish Government to the Air Discount Scheme. Other issues would, I believe, benefit from the Minister using his influence to apply further pressure on Flybe to improve reliability of its services.
“Derek Mackay has confirmed that he plans to consult further, including having direct discussions with Flybe, before coming forward with proposals. That is entirely right and proper. However, people in Orkney and Shetland are eager to see action and will be looking for more concrete answers from the Minister over the coming weeks.”