The ADS scheme which subsidises air fares for residents in some of Scotland’s most remote communities has been renewed and extended.
Support for the Air Discount Scheme (ADS), which provides eligible travellers with a discount of 50% on core air fares, has been renewed until 31 December 2020.
From 1 April, the scheme is also being extended to cover the whole of the Caithness area and further parts of Sutherland.
Students studying in the eligible areas, but whose main residence is elsewhere, will also be included in the scheme.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:m “We know the Air Discount Scheme is very popular and plays a vital role in keeping our remote communities connected, so I’m delighted we can announce its renewal and extension.
“The eligibility area has been widened to include the entire Caithness postcode, as well as further parts of Sutherland, so more people than ever will be able to access cheaper air fares.
“We also want to encourage people to come to these areas to study, so students at the seven colleges within the eligible areas will now also be able to sign up to the scheme.
“This announcement directly tackles the issue of high air fares in the Highlands and Islands and underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting our remote communities.”
Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, said: “The Air Discount Scheme plays a vital role in making flying to the mainland more affordable for islanders and I know today’s announcement will be widely welcomed across my constituency.
“It is also welcome to see students who have come here to study being able to benefit from scheme for the first time. This is important in marketing the islands as an attractive place to study.
“The Scottish Government has demonstrated its commitment to the continuation of the scheme and of supporting transport and connectivity to our island communities."
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed news that ADS (Air Discount Scheme) is to be extended and that students in the Islands with a main residence elsewhere will now qualify for the scheme.
Councillor Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of Transportation and Infrastructure, said: “The Comhairle has long campaigned for an extension to ADS which would include those studying in the Islands but with their main residence elsewhere and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has listened to the case we have made. We have also asked that businesses be included under the scheme but so far this has not been accepted. Still, this is a very positive development in extending the scheme.”