Comhairle nan Eilean Siar should apologise for the two years of travel inconvenience they have inflicted on islanders by axing inter-island flights, says Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil.

Welcoming news that flights between Stornoway and Benbecula are to be extended to a four day service, Mr MacNeil said it was time for the local authority to admit that cutting inter-island air services was the wrong decision.

He said: “I welcome the addition of Friday flights on the Stornoway to Benbecula service but this does not go far enough. 

“The decision to cut the previous five day service to just three and scrap the Barra-Benbecula service altogether had a massive impact on people, particularly those travelling to hospital appointments.

“I welcome the return of cash that was pockled from the Scottish Government but I now think the Comhairle should apologise to islanders for the impact the previous decision has had on communities for more than two years.”

He continued: “The Comhairle have just spent more than £10,000 on a review of the inter-island air services ahead of the new contract – the people of Uist and Barra could have saved them the time and the public money by informing them that only a five day service and reinstatement of the Barra-Benbecula service is good enough for our communities.”

Mr MacNeil is also calling for the Comhairle to ensure the travel network they provide allows passengers to make connections and travel from one end of the Isles to another in one day.

“The Comhairle must look at having a bus link direct between these planes and ferries so people can leave Barra on the 9:25am ferry and seamlessly catch the plane and also be able to return in the evening for last or second last ferry,” he said.

“We must end this period where it can be quicker to get to Edinburgh, London or Brussels than one end of Hebrides to the other.”