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Labour MSP presses Scottish Government over Highlands and Islands air links


By Alan Hendry

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Rhoda Grant wants to know what assessment the Scottish Government has made of the impact on Highlands and Islands air routes in light of Covid-19.
Rhoda Grant wants to know what assessment the Scottish Government has made of the impact on Highlands and Islands air routes in light of Covid-19.

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant has said it is "vitally important" the Scottish Government takes action to protect all the region’s air routes.

It comes amid uncertainty over the future of Wick John O'Groats Airport after Caithness was left without scheduled air services earlier this year.

Mrs Grant has lodged two parliamentary questions on the effect of Covid-19 on the region’s aviation industry.

The Labour MSP is asking the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of the impact on Highlands and Islands routes in the light of the pandemic and what it plans to do to protect the region’s connectivity.

She has also asked what the government plans to do in the light of Loganair suspending its Inverness/Shetland service and following the collapse of the two air routes from Wick.

Mrs Grant’s Highlands and Islands colleague, Labour MSP David Stewart, has continued to press the Scottish Government to bring in a public service obligation – a type of state aid – on the Wick routes to help the future development of the area.

“It’s vitally important the Scottish Government preserves and protects all the region’s air routes,” Mrs Grant said.

“These are lifeline services and should be recognised as such. It shows the need for more public service obligations to protect our routes to our islands and remote communities.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said last week: “We are considering carefully the business case submitted by the Caithness Chamber of Commerce for the direct subsidy of air services to Wick and will respond as soon as possible.

“We have been clear that any intervention would require multiple funding partners to restore scheduled services at Wick.”

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