Commenting on reports that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are talking of u-turning on their decision to axe inter-island flights, Na h-Eileanan and Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“It is heartening to hear the Council is talking of u-turning their ill advised, ill thought out and un-mandated policy of axing the Benbecula Stornoway air-service by 40% and the Barra Benbecula service entirely.

“The airports have unsurprisingly seen numbers of passengers fall in Barra and Benbecula, with Stornoway having seen less growth than the rest of the HIAL network. This move will have caused economic and social damage, and has been the biggest vandalism to island transportation in 40 years.

“After a summer of trying to make this work, I have recently been approached by cancer patients who are telling me that their journeys while sometimes difficult before, are now a nightmare.  People are reaching the limit of their patience with the Council, and with winter approaching, lack of patience will lead to frayed tempers.

“If this is not resolved to the wishes of the communities and if the Council keep ignoring their needs, I will be appealing along with the communities, for the Scottish Government to directly fund the inter-island Public Service Obligation (PSO) air routes as they do for the island to mainland PSO routes.

“We can all make mistakes. I hope the Council realise their mistake especially as some of the councillors who voted for this have not even been to the all the islands in question since their election.

“The Hebrides should be properly linked North and South. These cuts have made going to Glasgow or Edinburgh a far shorter journey than travelling from one end of the Island Local Authority to another.”