Colonsay residents are in line for inclusion in a flagship air discount scheme.
The news came as the Scottish Government announced it is beginning the process of securing European Commission approval to continue the Air Discount Scheme (ADS) beyond March 2011.
The ADS, which began in 2006, benefits remote communities across the Highlands and Islands with reduced journey fares and times, and improved accessibility.
Membership of the scheme in the eligible areas is high and the Scottish Government is keen for the scheme to continue. If approved by the Commission, the discount would be secured for another four years, until March 2015.
The ADS currently gives residents of Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Islay, Jura, Caithness and North West Sutherland a 40 per cent discount on the price of core air fares.
However, the Scottish Government has pledged to continue to look at ways of improving the scheme and increasing take-up even further. This includes requesting of the Commission that the scheme is expanded to the people of Colonsay.
This is in recognition of the transport challenges they face on a daily basis and in response to the recently improved indirect link to Glasgow through the Colonsay / Islay air service.
The news was welcomed by Councillor Robin Currie, Argyll and Bute’s spokesperson for rural and island affairs, housing and Gaelic.
“This is very welcome news, and is something I have been campaigning for on behalf of the residents of Colonsay for some time,” he said.
“With the Argyll Air Services now operating flights from Colonsay to Islay, people from Colonsay can now get to Glasgow within 2 hours rather than the 2 days that it took before. This is a major step forward and qualifying for the Air Discount Scheme is the icing on the cake.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: ““The Scottish Government understands how important this scheme is to our remote Highland and Island communities, and recognise the social and economic benefits that an extension to this scheme will continue to bring.
“We also want to ensure that more people in the eligible areas, particularly those on lower incomes, are taking full advantage and that scheme members continue to have help in visiting friends and family and for other forms of social inclusion that those in more populated parts of Scotland take for granted.
”Exchanges with the European Commission will be based around a four year approval, with discounts continued at the existing rate and we are hopeful that this will present no difficulties for the Commission.”