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Council to consider cheap flights for families

Fair Isle

SHETLAND Islands Council is to look at models such as NorthLink’s friends and families scheme in a bid to make travel to places like Fair Isle more affordable for relatives of residents.

The SIC environment and transport committee heard on Thursday that the cost of travel to Fair Isle was high, especially when the already “astronomical” cost of travelling from the mainland to Shetland was added in.

Councillor Robbie MacGregor said that he had been lobbied by people on Fair Isle about the issue and that the cost of travel was putting off tourists and people who have families in the isle.

The committee, considering a “refreshed” Shetland transport strategy, heard that the council’s objective was to make inter-island travel as cheap as possible but that any changes such as introducing special rates from families, would be examined in the course of discussions, including a visit by Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf in August.

Councillor Davie Sandison said that transport was one of the foremost issues for virtually everyone in Shetland and that is all boiled down to receiving the right financial help from the Scottish Government.

The committee also heard that an online ferry booking system that should be running “shortly” ought to help ease congestion on hard-pressed routes such as Whalsay.

A move to end free transport for senior secondary pupils travelling to schools outwith their catchment area was also passed with no discussion by the committee, many of whose members had already considered the plan at the education and families committee on Tuesday.