Air Discount Scheme to rise to 50 per cent in January

The Air Discount Scheme (ADS) run by the Scottish government is to increase to 50 per cent from 40 per cent on bookings made after 1st January next year.

Transport minister Derek Mackay during a visit to Sumburgh Airport. Photo: Dave Donaldson
Transport minister Derek Mackay during a visit to Sumburgh Airport. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The decision, revealed during today’s islands debate at Holyrood by Scottish transport minister Derek Mackay, was welcomed by both local and national politicians.

The SIC has been involved in the Our Islands Our Future (OIOF) campaign while MSP Tavish Scott has consistently lobbied over the issue and has also called on the government to think again over excluding business bookings from the scheme.

SIC political leader Gary Robinson said the OIOF campaign had built a strong working relationship with the government, based on mutual respect and sound arguments.

He said: “I’m very pleased that progress has been made on this issue. The islands’ leaders met with Derek Mackay at the Convention of the Highlands and Islands in Elgin yesterday where transport was firmly on the agenda.

“The convener of Orkney Islands Council, Steven Heddle, and the convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Norman Macdonald and I were able to impress upon the government the need for further intervention to support our vital air services.

“While this is a major step forwards, much still needs to be done to secure reliable and affordable transport links to the islands. We will continue to lobby at all levels of government and in Europe in order to achieve this.”

Mr Scott said air fares were a huge factor for islanders travelling to the Scottish mainland and therefore the increase in ADS was good.

He added: “It is what islanders have been pressing for. I hope the Scottish government will now reverse their earlier decision to cut back on the eligibility for the scheme. This has not helped working people across Shetland.

“So I will continue to make the case for the full ADS to be implemented by this government. That would be the progress we need.”


Add Your Comment
  • Robin Stevenson

    • October 6th, 2015 17:54

    While a further 10% added to the ADS is most welcome, It is such a shame that it is only the Scottish Government that seem to have made an effort, 50% discount is a substantial saving, but I’d like to see Flybe/Loganair make more of an attempt to bring their prices down to a more realistic level.

  • Johan Adamson

    • October 7th, 2015 8:44

    And make some investment in the aircraft used so they dont keep going technical and they can loose the nickname ‘Fly Maybe’

  • Gordon Harmer

    • October 7th, 2015 14:14

    Am I mistaken or is there an election in seven months time; 10% of an increase in the ADS scheme. Why when the maximum allowed in this scheme is 50% have we been sitting with a 40% ADS scheme for so long? Where has the money suddenly come from, could it be anything to do with some of the multi million pound under spend being squirreled away for a bit of a bribe leading up to the Scottish Election next year?
    If this is the new thinking of the Scottish government maybe they could apply this thinking to paying our crofters and farmers what they are due from the EU. Dr Ian Duncan MEP has called for the Scottish Government to immediately make EU payments to farmers after the European Commission confirmed they would not stand in the way. Writing to Environment Secretary Richard Lochead MSP, Mr Duncan stressed that the failure to release this money was only adding to the already long list of farmers’ woes.
    In his letter, Dr Duncan stated:
    “Poor weather, low prices, issues with the Scottish Government’s computer system and uncertainty over CAP payments have all conspired to create real concern within the industry.
    “To address the serious issue of cash-flow problems affecting Scottish farmers, the Scottish Government must bring forward the early release of CAP payments.”
    Dr Duncan also reminded Richard Lochead that there is no legal restriction on the CAP funds being released early, speaking of the “bewilderment” exhibited by Commissioner Hogan upon hearing of Mr Lochead’s claim that the CAP funds could only be released at the end of the year.
    On Mr Locheads failure to release these funds, Dr Duncan wrote:
    “That is not good enough and therefore I would ask you to look again at the offer made by the Commissioner and give farmers a commitment to do everything possible to get money into their bank accounts as early as possible. It’s time to get the money into the hands of farmers.”

    • Robin Stevenson

      • October 7th, 2015 22:10

      As far as I was made aware this article was a further 10% increase in ADS, bringing the total discount up to 50%, but it seems that [according to you] this is a ploy to win votes ..erm…8 months away? So, it’s not a good thing then Gordon? Basically then, the SNP government are damned if they do and damned if they don’t?…Well, glad we cleared that up.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • October 8th, 2015 13:44

        Of course it’s good Robin but it could have been at 50% for years, so why was it not?
        While you are answering that how about a statement as the SNPs rep in Shetland about the payments to crofters and farmers.

      • Bill Adams

        • October 8th, 2015 17:21

        The point, Gordon, is that it could have been at 50% from the very beginning, but Tavish Scott for some reason or other decided to set the bar at 40% only.
        I suggest that you ask him for the reason he decided that.
        Actually, on second thoughts, don’t bother, as that is an embarrassing question to which he will duck and dive like a Cockney market trader in order to evade giving an honest answer.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • October 8th, 2015 17:56

        More to the point, why wasn’t it 50% when it was first introduced in 2006? Why didn’t [the then Lab/Lib Scottish Gov] include businesses travel discount back then? but are moaning about NOT having it now? Where was Tavish then?
        So from that I’d gather that either the Lab/Lib Gov couldn’t afford it [which is ludicrous when they chose to send back £1.5 Bn of our block grant to Westminster] OR they were merely incompetent?

        I’m not the SNPs rep Gordon, as I’ve told you and others before.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • October 8th, 2015 20:05

        Then why did the SNP not put it up when they first had a majority government Bill?
        The reason is clear they hung on to it for a carrot on a stick leading up to the Scottish election.
        Just the same a s they are doing with the temporary ban on coal gasification just to quieten the SNP rank and file who do not want it, but it will be back on the books after the election.

      • Ali Inkster

        • October 8th, 2015 21:37

        Maybe because he was in a coalition with central belt labour and that was the best deal he could get.

      • Ali Inkster

        • October 9th, 2015 14:32

        Lets not forget they reduced its scope before only giving a little back, businesses in the isles are still disadvantaged by this decision. And it is the businesses that pay the wages that folks use to go on holiday.

      • Robin Stevenson

        • October 9th, 2015 16:47

        It goes right back to the same question Ali/Gordon

        1. Why didn’t it start on 50% when it was first introduced in 2006?

        2. Why didn’t the Lib/Lab Government introduce discount for businesses at the same time?

        3. The Lib/Lab coalition was the majority Government Ali, had Lib/Dems insisted on both of the above, Labour was in no position to oppose them, indeed, why would they? It’s not as if they couldn’t afford it considering they were both sending money BACK to Westminster?

        Ask Tavish?…Instead of blaming the SNP for increasing the amount of discount. 🙂

      • Gordon Harmer

        • October 9th, 2015 18:27

        Boy oh boy, something original from Robin, “ask Tavish” makes a change from its Westminster’s fault.

      • Robert Duncan

        • October 9th, 2015 18:40

        Robin, you have a fair point asking why it wasn’t 40% before, but you are mistaken on the issue of business travel. When the ADS was first brought in, business travel was eligible. That eligibility was removed in April 2011.

      • Ali Inkster

        • October 9th, 2015 20:20

        Wrong as always Wrobin. The snp removed the business element of the ADS, causing myself £thousands in extra expense every year. But of course sitting in Glasgow you would know better than me.

      • John Tulloch

        • October 10th, 2015 8:52

        No, Robin Stevenson, we’re not interested in the “Boer War, “the question is:

        “Why has it taken you, the SNP, eight years and the pre-Election Facebook equivalent of the Iranian Revolution before you have relented and righted what you acknowledge was an obvious wrong?”

      • Brian Smith

        • October 10th, 2015 12:35

        The real question is: Will the “Wir Shetland” group be campaigning against the 50 per cent discount?

      • Duncan Simpson

        • October 10th, 2015 13:06

        Brian why would Wir Shetland be against the 50% discount? The whole purpose of Wir Shetland is to benefit the Isles. If you paid attention to the recent article you would see that affordable transport between Shetland and the UK mainland is one of the groups aims.

      • John Tulloch

        • October 10th, 2015 15:06

        Thanks, Brian. I would say the “real question” is what is the meaning of the catch-phrase “island-proofing”?

      • Robin Stevenson

        • October 10th, 2015 17:23

        Robert Duncan

        I stand corrected with regards to business travel being withdrawn in 2011, so thank you for that. I have since discovered the reason why it was withdrawn, however I had better not say, as I shall [once again] be accused of the “blame game”, but it does partly explain the reason why this subject hasn’t been raised more often by opposition parties.

        While the Scottish Government were [legally] bound NOT to include business travel, they did attempt to pass other savings onto businesses such as support for businesses under the small business bonus scheme, so while we have Ali claiming that his business suffered as a result of exclusion, I’d imagine that his business may well have made up these costs in other ways.

        I still find it incredible, however, that we have certain politicians banging on about how unfair the Scottish Government is, having they themselves fully signed up for imposing these severe cuts in the first place? they’re quite happy to see Scotland’s block grant reduced significantly, but somehow want MORE money from the Scottish Government?

      • Ali Inkster

        • October 11th, 2015 16:54

        imagine all you want Wrobin but in your fantasy you’re still Wrong. The scoti government have done nothing to alleviate any cost to my business, but then neither have westminster. That’s why I am firmly convinced that we are better aff clear o da lot o you. You sit in Glasgow preaching to us about the right to self determination but are terrified of Shetland doing exactly that. Funny how the proponents of Scoti independence are the ones most opposed to Shetlands independence. Why is this I wonder?

  • iantinkler

    • October 8th, 2015 10:41

    “Basically then, the SNP government are damned if they do and damned if they don’t?” Perhaps they are damned because they took 8 years till they did, on the eve of an election, what a surprise. Good PR and typical SNP pre-election bribe. Simlpes Robin!!

    • Bill Adams

      • October 9th, 2015 16:27

      What the SNP Government has done over the last 8 years is to respond to lobbying by continuing the ADS scheme on 3 occasions (in 2008, 2011 and earlier this year) at the existing discount rate despite cuts to the
      block grant from Westminster.
      The extra pressure from the Our Islands Our Future campaign and especially the public pressure from the Scott Preston Facebook campaign with its well-argued case can take the credit for securing the increase.

      • Gordon Harmer

        • October 9th, 2015 18:23

        You cannot talk about cuts in the block grant when the SNP have consistently under spent to the tune of billions in their 8 years of office.
        What it took to get the 50% was a well run campaign by Scott Preston and an approaching Scottish election. What else do the SNP have to bang their drum about up here in Shetland.

      • James Watt

        • October 10th, 2015 19:26

        Gordon, despite your misconception, the SNP hasn’t underspent to the tune of billions, the truth is in fact the opposite, they got billions extra funding returned to Holyrood after the Lib Dem, Labour coalition returned their annual underspend to Wesminster each year.

        Since 2010 the Scottish government has been allowed to carry forward a percentage of block grant to the next years budget. In exactly the same way your employer might let you carry holiday entitlement forward, if you were to carry 5 days holiday forward each year for 10 years you wouldn’t have 50 days unused holidays, and same applies to Scotland’s budget, you don’t add each years underspend together to create a new total underspend, because any underspend will be incorpurated into the next years budget.

  • Gareth fair

    • October 9th, 2015 9:47

    Shouldn’t we see this as a success for the people that have been lobbying the government and a plus for the government itself listening to us?
    It’s a good thing.
    There are plenty of other things we would want the government to address, if we don’t show any appreciation for the things they do for us we are hardly encouraging them to do more.
    I don’t see this as a government ploy as Tavish Scott (umungst others) have been lobbying this on our behalf, I would think much of the praise for this should go to him / them in any case.
    Personally I welcome it and thank the government for their action on this.
    Well done Tavish and others also.

  • David Spence

    • October 9th, 2015 14:18

    Gareth, when it comes to a Government not acting in the best interests of the people, you only have to look at the v-Tories as an example of this. They prove without a shadow of doubt, they are only interested in their own agenda and this of their friendly cronies………..but at the cost and detriment to the people.

  • Tommy Bain

    • October 11th, 2015 12:26

    It will not matter how much extra we get , like the original 40% or the 5p a litre off petrol , loganair will just increase the prices now and it will end up in their pocket. I bet I don’t see another 10% off my flights as a regular flyer.


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