North Sea ferry link application re-submitted

AN APPLICATION for Marco Polo funding for the Norshukon project will be re-submitted in January, the ZetTrans meeting heard.

The application for the funding, made by would-be ferry operator John White, was recently turned down because another operator, Superfast, was at that time on the Rosyth-Zeebrugge part of the route.

Transport manager Ken Duerden said that there was encouragement from EU officials to resubmit the application and there had been an indication that it would be looked on favourably next time. How­ever it would depend if another operator was sailing on the Rosyth-Zeebrugge leg of the route. As The Shetland Times reported last week, Dutch operator Norfolkline is due to take over the route from Superfast next spring.

Chairman Allan Wishart said that the failure of the funding bid had been a shame as it had been submitted only weeks before Superfast pulled out.

Mr Duerden said that the potential Shetland operators had been promised a reason why their Marco Polo bid had been unsuccessful.

Meanwhile Shetland and Orkney could collaborate to secure air services to the isles in the future, ZetTrans lead officer Michael Craigie told the meeting.

Mr Craigie said that in the past there had been one operator, Loganair, for the two island groups. Loganair had also run the air ambulance service. Over 20 years the operation had grown informally.

The island groups now have separate contracts, and under European regulations they are not now allowed to invite tenders for a single contract. However if Shetland and Orkney tenders could be “aligned” and go out at the same time the market might see this as a more attractive proposition, he said. The current contract ends in July and a new contract would be for either three or four years. In the more distant future it is hoped that a single contract might be possible.


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