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Scott calls for increase to air discount scheme

SHETLAND MSP Tavish Scott has reiterated his call for the Scottish Government to increase the Air Discount Scheme rate after meeting today (Wednesday) with the campaign that wants to see the cost of flying to and from Shetland reduced and reliability of the service strengthened.

The Liberal Democrat, along with his Orkney counterpart Liam McArthur, discussed the project with campaign leader Scott Preston at the Scottish Parliament.

The meeting came after Scott launched a feedback form on his website to gauge the public’s experiences with flight operator Loganair.

The MSP previously pledged his support to the campaign, which now has over 15,000 supporters on its Facebook page and seeks a better deal for all islanders served by Flybe/Loganair.

Speaking after his meeting with Preston, Scott said that the government needs to consider boosting its islander airfare discount scheme by ten per cent.

“The Fair Fares campaign has pressed the Scottish Government for a higher rate of Air Discount Scheme. I agree.

“We need everyone to help in reducing the costs we all pay. So the Scottish Government could respond positively to the campaign’s pressure by increasing the ADS rate from 40 to 50%.

“That is allowed by EU rules as is reintroducing island based businesses into the scheme which would help the economy of all the islands.”

The MSP meanwhile said before the meeting that he feels the “major issue” in this instance is reliability, while he expressed his gratitude at Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams previously confirming plans to improve their service.

“I know one group of Shetland business people who bring music acts to Shetland regularly. They face real problems in booking bands if Loganair cannot guarantee the reliability of the service,” he said

“So many aspects of island life are affected by the air service. So Scott Preston’s work has been invaluable in highlighting these issues and demanding action. I want to complement and encourage that work.”

Earlier this month ‘Islanders Against Flybe/Loganair Excessive Prices’ leader Preston met with Scottish transport and islands minister Derek Mackay to discuss the issues raised by the campaign.

Preston said that Mackay “had taken into account the many representations he had received from MSPs and individuals alike”.

The group previously met with Loganair chief executive Stewart Adams, who promised to introduce compassionate discounts to those flying at short notice to events such as funerals.

Adams admitted that reliability has “simply not been good enough in recent months” and confirmed that efforts were underway to solve the airline’s operational problems.