An apparent softening of tone has emerged after crunch talks between council and airport representatives in the latest instalment of the Sumburgh Airport parking charges fiasco.
Council leaders have met Hial staff to discuss the plans to roll out the £3 a day charge due to face motorists from the beginning of next month.
Political leader Steven Coutts was attending the meeting along with environment and transport and ZetTrans chairman Ryan Thomson. Chief executive Maggie Sandison was also present.
SIC leaders have now said they are “not convinced” government subsidies needed for airport operations were being applied fairly.
Mr Coutts said in a statement: “The meeting today was constructive and achieved a better understanding of the constraints of Hial’s operations and their challenges of maintaining 11 airports.
“Sumburgh’s growth is a success story and has reduced its call on subsidy. The airport is our lifeline link and we believe Hial should be properly funded to maintain the operation for island residents.
Mr Thomson added: “We are not convinced that the subsidy is being applied fairly and equitably across the Hial network.
“For example, Dundee Airport, with just two scheduled flights today, last year received a revenue subsidy of around £2.5 million, yet is not a lifeline link.
“We call on our Transport and Islands Minister to ensure that with the passing of the Islands Bill into law, he will ensure that the Hial subsidy distribution is ‘island-proofed’.”
Hial’s managing director Inglis Lyon said: “I think both sides understand each other’s position much more clearly after our meeting and I am grateful to Shetland Islands Council for their time today.
“We will continue our ongoing dialogue with council officers around technical issues to ensure a mutually satisfactory resolution.”