Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Locals and tourists competing for seats on crowded Outer Hebrides flights

Angus MacNeil.
Angus MacNeil.

A new battle of the skies has emerged between locals and tourists competing to obtain a seat on crowded planes.

Some services are said to be sold out weeks ahead, stranding residents.

Amid a growing tourists boom, the Scottish Government has now been asked to act over grounded islanders unable to get on Outer Hebrides’ flights.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has written to Transport Minister Michael Matheson MSP asking him to bring changes to the booking system to address the capacity issues on isles’ air services.

It follows a similar action from Islands’ Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP who has indicated he will do the same for ferries – which have also been hit by a lack of space for locals.

Mr MacNeil has suggested the introduction of different time windows to the booking system of lifeline air and ferry services which would allow a percentage of seats/deckspace to be retained for booking within a shorter window of two to four weeks during peak times.

Mr Wheelhouse has already confirmed in a letter to Mr MacNeil that he will look at options for addressing shorter notice bookings on the ferries.

There is now only one day in June and four days in July when flights are available from Glasgow to Barra. Barra to Glasgow has minimal availability for the rest of June and August seats are also filling up fast in both directions.

Mr MacNeil said: “The response from Mr Matheson in a letter to me on May 15 regarding the lifeline Barra air service was that we are locked into this pattern of effectively no summer access at short notice for businesses, locals and the bereaved until 2023 because the contract has gone out to tender.

“This is not realistic for any island and the community of Barra is clearly going to be adversely affected if this continues.

“I am proposing a solution and I am pleased that Paul Wheelhouse has already stated in a letter to me that he will act on addressing the issue of access to ferries at short notice which is needed in Stornoway, Tarbert, Lochmaddy, Lochboisdale and Castlebay.

“We also need an active response on the air service, not a passive one, and I hope Mr Matheson will respond positively to this plan of action.

“If the train service between Edinburgh and Glasgow was booked up months in advance as the flight is from Barra to Glasgow, and as are some ferry services, I’m sure the Scottish Government would face strong calls to do something about it and would indeed respond.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]