Two new aeroplanes have been ordered to serve the lifeline air service to Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown.
The Twin Otter aircraft have been specially selected as they are able to land on Barra, the world’s only scheduled service with a landing strip on a beach.
The contract to supply the new planes to link the islands with Glasgow has been awarded to Canadian company Viking Air Limited. The route is officially designated as a public service obligation (PSO) and would not be commercially viable without support from the Scottish Government. Viking Air Limited will provide the two Twin Otter DHC6-400 aircraft. No figure for the contract has yet been disclosed, but the tender was between £5 million and £7 million.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said he was “delighted” that a supplier had been secured. “We expect to take delivery of the new planes next May and for them to be up and running on the routes shortly afterwards. By purchasing our own aircraft, we will also encourage more competition when the contract for operating the PSO routes comes up for renewal. We will be looking at ways to enhance these services and will engage with passengers, local businesses and other interested parties to look at potential improvements. These new planes mean our PSO routes to Campbeltown, Barra and Tiree will continue to be reliable and attractive to travellers. The communities served by these flights can now look forward to seeing new planes operating on the routes next summer.”
Subsidy has been paid by the Scottish Government on the Glasgow-Tiree and Glasgow-Barra route since the mid-1970s.