Orkney Interislands Air Service

Portfolio Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament am 2:30 pm ar 23 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 2:30, 23 Mai 2024

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of any accessibility issues in relation to the interislands air service in Orkney and similar public service obligation operations in other island communities. (S6O-03468)

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

The provision of public service obligation operations in Orkney is a matter for Orkney Islands Council and Loganair. Therefore, the Scottish Government has not assessed the accessibility of those services.

I know that Loganair is receptive to feedback on how the services could be improved for anyone who relies on them. As for the island communities, the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland recently wrote to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar—forgive me for not pronouncing that properly; I really apologise for butchering that—about issues concerning the new contract with a different airline. MACS has also written to me on the issue, and I will carefully consider my response.

The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership—HITRANS—convened a meeting of health boards in its area recently to discuss the establishment of a health and transport action plan. If Mr McArthur has not already done so, I would urge him to raise those relevant issues with HITRANS.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol

I advise the minister that he will probably have to make his peace with Alasdair Allan and his constituents at some point. [ Laughter .]

I recently met North Ronaldsay community council, Orkney Islands Council, NHS Orkney, Loganair and others to discuss growing concerns about the accessibility of the Islander aircraft, which provides the lifeline air services to North Ronaldsay and other outer north isles in my constituency. I am told that some island residents with mobility issues find the prospect of trying to get in and out of the aircraft so painful and/or undignified that they are opting not to travel, and are often missing health and other important appointments on the Orkney mainland.

Will the minister agree to ask his officials to engage with Orkney Islands Council to see what more might be done in the context of the forthcoming retendering process for the interisland service to ensure that this genuine lifeline is accessible to all island residents who depend on it?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I assure Liam McArthur that that conversation could be had. I am also aware that officials are scheduling a meeting with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in June to discuss healthcare provision. We will keep members updated on that.