Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has welcomed the announcement that the Scottish Government is again tendering for the PSO route from Barra to Glasgow but is asking for more action to ensure the community can access lifeline flights at short notice.

Mr MacNeil said: “It is ironic that on the day of this announcement, there were no seats available between Glasgow and Barra for the next fortnight.

“This is impacting on the local community and businesses, both local and off island, who are having to deal with shorter windows of need and find that bookings are taken by tourists who have booked long in advance, sometimes just doing day returns.”

He added: “I would ask Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport to accept that all the seats have booking windows typically of 9-12 months but that they do need to keep some seats with shorter booking windows of 2-4 weeks for the summer period.

“During the summer, the lifeline air service is very often closed to islanders because of the length of booking windows.”

The Invitation To Tender for the contract, which will run for four years from 25 October 2019 includes new measures which will see little used services from Barra and Tiree removed from schedules to create a bank of rotations which can be deployed at the discretion of local communities.

A trial on the Barra service, which sees seats reserved for passengers travelling for medical purposes, will also be formalised in the new contract.