The Air Discount Scheme, which offers a significant discount on air fares for travellers from remote communities, is being renewed for a further four years, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay has announced.
The current scheme is due to expire on the 31st March 2015, but Scottish Government funding will see it extended until the 31st March 2019.
It offers a 40% discount on core air fares on eligible routes for residents of Caithness and North West Sutherland, Colonsay, Islay, Jura, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
Mr Mackay said: “The Scottish Government is doing everything we can to support communities in the Highlands and Islands and measures such as the Air Discount Scheme and Road Equivalent Tariff make a real difference for local residents. For many these are lifeline connections and, as Minister for Transport and Islands, I am particularly pleased to announce the continuation of the Air Discount Scheme.
“The scheme has proved hugely popular with users, as it directly tackles the issue of high air fares in the Highlands and Islands. The significant discount offered by the scheme makes sure these communities remain connected.
“It’s also open to students and, since 2012, the Scottish Government has extended the Air Discount Scheme to travel undertaken by volunteers and employees of third sector organisations.
“You need only look at the take up figures to see just how important the ADS is, with around 75% of eligible people signed up. That figure rises to over 90% in most of the eligible areas.
“It’s encouraging to see so many people signed up to the scheme and I hope they continue to make use of it in the future.”