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Caithness News Bulletins February 2006

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Transport Minister Tavish Scott Announced Up To 40% Discount On North Air Fares
Transport Minister Tavish Scott,  announced innovative proposals to deliver lower air fares for people who live in the Highlands and Islands.  (Tavish Scott is the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Shetland) In a UK first, the devolved Scottish Government plans to employ the Aid of Social Character scheme. This allows public sector support to reduce air fares in remote and peripheral regions on approval from the European Commission, improving access for remote communities. Under the ground breaking scheme, residents of Shetland, Orkney, Western Isles, Islay, Jura and Caithness will be eligible for an estimated 40 per cent discount on trips to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. These innovative proposals are a crucial step in delivering on the commitment made by the First Minster, Jack McConnell in 2002. They will stimulate the market and open up competition - boosting the capacity, frequency and number of air routes available in these areas. An annual budget of 11.2 million has been allocated to deliver the scheme over the next two years (2006/07 and 2007/08).

1. Eligibility

  • a. Discounts will be available to people whose main residence is in one of the defined eligible geographical areas - Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Islay and Jura, Caithness.
  • b. Discounts will be available on any scheduled air service to and from any airport within the eligible geographic area to:
    * One of four main population centres within Scotland - Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness; and to
    * Another airport within the eligible geographic area
  • c. There will be no restriction on the number of trips per eligible person.
  • d.The discount will be available for both single and return journeys.

Bill Fernie who coincidentally was in Edinburgh met Tavish Scott and spoke to him about his announcement earlier in the day and he said " I am confident this will make big impact on the areas where the new fares structure applies".  Tavish Scott is a Scottish Liberal Democrat and in addition to being the transport minister is the MSP for Shetland.  Bill congratulated the minister on his announcement that will be welcomed by the business community and people in the areas concerned who would like to use air travel to shorten the long trips to the centres in the south.

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