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Air discount could be extended to students

Loganair says it has 70 per cent of market share on the routes to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Photo: Mark BerryThe Air Discount Scheme gives islanders a 50 per cent discount on air fares. Photo: Mark Berry

THE SCOTTISH Government has reiterated its commitment to continuing the Air Discount Scheme as it considers extending it to include people studying in eligible areas.

It comes as officials expect to make a formal announcement on the extending the scheme soon before it comes up for renewal at the end of March next year.

The scheme offers a 50 per cent discount on core air fares to people whose permanent or main residence is in rural areas like the Northern Isles, the Western Isles, Caithness and North West Sutherland.

The current scheme is operating from 2015 to 31 March 2019 and a spokesman for Transport Scotland confirmed that it is exploring having people studying in areas in Shetland eligible for the cheaper fares as discussions continue on extending the service.

It is understood that officials are looking at continuing the scheme through to at least the end of 2020.

“The Scottish Government is committed to the continuation of the Air Discount Scheme and will make a formal announcement on the continuation of the scheme in due course,” the spokesman said.

“As part of the continuation of the scheme we are considering the inclusion of students studying in the eligible area and extending the geographic extent of the scheme in Caithness.”

Under the current scheme, people studying away from home with their main residence in an eligible area – like a Shetlander at university on the Scottish mainland – are eligible.