Tiree is to get an air service fit for the 21st century as the Scottish Government promises that two, rather than just one flight per day will extend over the next four years.
Dr. John Holliday, the island’s GP and Convenor of the Tiree Community Council said, “This is great news for Tiree! The extra flights will provide a step change in transport to the island, and will be a major boost to Tiree’s fragile economy. They will also be a considerable help for those needing to leave the island for specialist medical attention. “
Last November islanders voiced grave concerns about the lack of capacity on the air link between Tiree and Glasgow, particularly in summer months when increasing numbers of tourists travelled to the island. Islanders, who turned up in force to a public meeting with Transport Scotland last November, demanded a better air service which would cope both with tourism and increasing demand from local residents. Some islanders were having difficulty getting to Glasgow by air for hospital appointments and vital treatments, including cancer care.
Derek Mackay, Scottish Government Minister for Transport and the Islands and Islands, has now confirmed that the minimum specifications of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) for the Glasgow to Tiree air service from October shall guarantee two flights a day Monday to Saturday all year around and a dedicated Sunday flight all year around, a significant improvement on the existing PSO specification for Tiree. Mr. MacKay said, “These air links are vital to the local economies of Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra and I want to make sure they are delivering the best service possible for the communities they serve.” He went on, “We are committed to supporting our remote communities and these improved air links will help do that”.
Tiree Community Council Vice Convener John MacCaskill added, “The Scottish Government listened to the Tiree community’s concerns and they are now delivering an air-service fit for the 21st Century for what is a remote and isolated Inner Hebrides isle. This will make a big difference to the social and economic development of Tiree. We were due to get a better service for this summer to cope with demand, but we now have an air service fit for purpose which has been extended for the next four years.”
The full details of the PSO Tendering Document for the communities of Barra, Campbeltown and Tiree will be released to the air industry on Tuesday 7th April 2015. The airline awarded the new PSO will run the air services to Glasgow from late October till the autumn 2019.
The hope now for the Tiree Community is that the airline awarded the new PSO will offer an early morning and late afternoon air service to Glasgow, particularly on weekdays, to maximise the potential of the much improved life-line air service.