Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has today welcomed the announcement that the Air Discount Scheme is to be increased from 40% to 50%.
Liam McArthur, along with Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, had called for Scottish Government to bring down the cost of fares on lifeline air services to and from Northern Isles by increasing the ADS. The calls this summer followed a joint meeting between the two Liberal Democrat MSPs and Scott and Phoebe Preston, whose social media campaign on this issue has attracted significant support from people living in all three main island groups in Scotland.
Mr McArthur, however, pointed out that isles-based businesses are still excluded from the scheme following a decision by the Scottish Government back in 2011.
Commenting, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur said:
“I am pleased that the Minister has heeded my calls and those of other local campaigners in our islands. The increase in ADS support from 40% to 50% is a welcome move that will help make our lifeline air services more affordable.
“Nevertheless, it is disappointing that the Minister still refuses to reverse the government’s earlier decision to exclude isles-based businesses from ADS support. This cut has increased costs for local businesses in Orkney at a time when the need to remain competitive with counterparts on mainland Scotland has never been greater.
“At the same time, reliability is the biggest issue facing our lifeline air services. Time and again this was raised during this afternoon’s debate and I am pleased that the Minister confirmed that he remains actively engaged in discussions with Loganair about these concerns.”
Commenting on the Scottish Government announcement of a freeze on ferry fares for 2016/17 across subsidised services. Mr McArthur added:
“Mr Mackay’s confirmation that ferry fares on subsidised services will be frozen for next year is a positive move. However, it does not address the fact that Orkney and Shetland are now the only island communities locked out of the Scottish Government’s cheap ferry fares scheme. This is unfair, unsustainable and needs to be urgently addressed by the Islands Minister.”