Isles MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the announcement that CalMac have been awarded preferred bidder status for the Clyde and Hebrides ferry contract and will continue to serve island communities for the next eight years.

Mr MacNeil said this news was a relief for ferry workers after the Scottish Government had been obligated to open the process to competitive bids due to EU regulations.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted that the contract has been awarded to CalMac. Many of CalMac’s crews had told me of their nervousness about this process and what it could have meant for their jobs or terms and conditions so firstly for them this will be a big relief.

“Now CalMac must continue to serve the islands as best they can and improve services where possible.

“Earlier this week CalMac announced their plan to introduce online booking for foot passengers and e-ticketing which is a very positive step forward.”

The ferry contract will run from 1 October 2016 for a duration of up to eight years. The Scottish Government will provide £900 million of support to the lifeline services and continue the application of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) across the network.

CalMac has committed to retaining its pension scheme and to a policy of no compulsory redundancies.