An announcement that morning newspapers will once more be available to buy in the islands has been welcomed by councillors.

Loganair outlined various plans at a meeting of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week.

The proposals confirmed recent announcements such as flights from Stornoway to Manchester and a campaign to have Air Passenger Duty abolished on flights to the Highlands and Islands but also new initiatives such as an improved on-line booking system, increased communication with passengers in the event of delays or cancellations, increased checking in times, the ability to check in online without the need to print a boarding card, the removal of charges for credit card bookings, reduced cost for advanced seat assignment and no need for ID checks at airport check-ins and boarding gates for domestic flights from 1st September.

A presentation by Loganair Managing Director, Jonathan Hinkles, also highlighted improvements in service performance and a commitment to continue the weather disruption policy introduced last December and January to offer passengers alternative flights if forecast bad weather looks like disrupting flights.

A trial will also start on 1 April this year to bring newspapers to Stornoway arriving early morning Monday to Friday, a move very much welcomed by members of the Comhairle. Mr Hinkles will also investigate whether a similar trial can be put in place for Benbecula.

Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “This was a very positive presentation that highlighted a number of proposals planned by Loganair which should improve the customer experience for air travellers to and from the Islands. 

"I very much welcome the additional Glasgow-Barra flights in peak season and larger aircraft on certain Glasgow-Benbecula flights.

"The Comhairle is supportive of the Loganair campaign to remove Air Departure tax (previously Air Passenger Duty) from routes to the Highlands and Islands from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen which would increase passengers through HIAL airports and keep tourism spend in Scotland. I would also hope that another look can be taken at extending the ADS to include businesses.

"Overall, these are very positive developments and I believe there is great potential for further opportunities to work with Loganair. They have committed to introduce a Gaelic version booking website and the promotion of island products such as Harris Tweed and Island produce could all help to provide an economic stimulus for the Islands.”