Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed New Year commitments from Loganair that they are striving to improve air services to and from the Isles through a £15m investment programme.

However he stressed that until passengers see major improvements to reliability and condition of aircraft, public confidence will remain at an all-time low. He urged the firm to continue investment in service and fleet improvements to demonstrate commitment to the Isles.

Mr MacNeil has had regular contact with Loganair to relay the very strong concerns expressed by his constituents after months of regular flight delays and issues raised about the condition of aircraft.

He has also pursued several individual compensation cases where customers have been disadvantaged through no fault of their own.

Mr MacNeil said: “I am relieved that Loganair are taking steps to create a more robust service for the future by improving aircraft and also enhancing the maintenance side of the business with the new spares hub at Glasgow Airport and the launch of engineer apprenticeship programme. The company have announced that they have increased their annual turnover and I would hope that this strong financial position will allow them to continue the investment programme which they have outlined this week.

“The service in 2015 was unacceptable and passengers have long memories. Until customers see major consistent service improvements, it is unlikely that satisfaction will increase in the short term.

“Flight delays have a direct impact on the local economy and disrupt people’s lives, not just leading to inconvenience but for some such as those working off-shore, this can be the difference between getting to work or not.

“I hope that 2015 was a blip as Loganair have had 50 years of good service to the islands and we hope they will get back on track as soon as possible.

Mr MacNeil will also write to Flybe who have a franchise agreement with Loganair to operate the island flights.

He said: “Flybe must be aware of the customer dissatisfaction levels on these services and as the firm displaying their logo on these planes, they must also share some responsibility for service improvement.”

The New Year also marked the start of the extension of the Air Discount Scheme to 50 per cent offering passengers, a development which Mr MacNeil has warmly welcomed.

He added: “I am delighted that this additional discount has now been applied and is available to ADS card holders now. This is a further investment by the Scottish Government in transport services which will benefit islanders in addition to the already announced extension of RET to inter-island routes, new aircraft for the Barra air service and the announcement of daily dedicated services between Lochboisdale and Mallaig and Castlebay and Oban.”