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New planes for Argyll and Scottish islands

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Two new planes which will take passengers to Argyll and the islands have been unveiled by Transport Minister Derek Mackay.

The Twin Otter DHC6-400 aircraft will be used on the Scottish Government’s Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes from Glasgow to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.

They were specially selected as they are able to land on Barra, the world’s only scheduled service with a landing strip on a beach.

The 19-seat twin engine planes were manufactured by Viking Air Limited at the company’s base in Vancouver, Canada. No figure for the planes has been revealed, but the tender was for between £5-7million. They will now begin the certification process, before entering service later this summer.

Mr Mackay said: “The aircraft will come as a welcome sight to the remote communities that rely on these services to keep them connected.

“The flights transport people and goods, playing a crucial role for service industries, fisheries and agriculture. Direct air links also enable visitors to reach the islands easily, boosting local tourism. The new planes mean our PSO routes will continue to be reliable and attractive to travellers.

“The purchase of our own aircraft will encourage more competition for the next contract to operate the PSO routes. That contract has been enhanced, with more flights and better timings to offer local residents and businesses, as well as tourists, an improved service.”

Inglis Lyon, managing director of Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, said: “These new aircraft represent a significant public investment in these lifeline routes and in the communities they serve.”

Public service flights between Oban Airport and the isles of Coll, Colonsay and Tiree were saved earlier this month following a contract disagreement.

Argyll and Bute Council and Hebridean Air Services Limited agreed in principle to a new three-year PSO contract.

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