On the 10th July (2014), Transport Minister Keith Brown announced that two new planes to operate on the Scottish Government’s Public Service Obligation [PSO] routes, from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra has entered the formal tendering phase. Quality of build, price and how quick the aircraft can be brought into service are all factors that will be considered in the bidding process. It has been reported that ‘the communities served by these services can now look forward to seeing new planes operating on the routes. We want these services to continue to be reliable and attractive to travellers, and these new planes will help achieve that.’
As with the ferry service two stated factors need to be held in tension. ‘These air services are crucial to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra, connecting these communities and transporting goods and services. These local economies are based on service industries, tourism, fisheries and agriculture. The reliance on tourism in particular means that direct air links are vital to enable visitors to reach the islands easily.’ And, ‘these routes provide a vital social and economic lifeline for the communities of Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra and through the PSO system we have been able to ensure continuity of service over many years, bringing huge benefits to families and businesses across these communities.’ It has been stated, ‘We will also be engaging with passengers, local businesses and other interests on the specifications for the next contract period so we can consider what enhancements can be made to these services, making best use of the new aircraft.’ The latter needs to be more than lip service. It needs to be genuine listening and action.