The new contract for the Northern Isles ferry services has been formally awarded to current operator Serco.
The contract is expected to run from 30th June for a six year period, with the option of a further two years.
Serco was selected by the Scottish government as the preferred bidder for the new £450 million deal in September last year.
MSPs have now been told the contract was officially awarded on Wednesday.
Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “I can confirm the next contract to operate the Northern Isles Ferry Services has been formally awarded Serco NorthLink Ferries.
“The contract will run from 30th June 2020 until 30th June 2026, with the option of a further two years.
“This announcement will assure the communities who rely on these services, and the employees who work on them, of the Scottish government’s continued commitment to the provision of safe, reliable and efficient ferry services to the Northern Isles.”
Kevin Craven, Serco’s chief executive in UK and Europe, said: “Serco is delighted to have been awarded this new contract with Scottish ministers and to have the opportunity to continue to provide this lifeline service for the Northern Isles for another six years.
“We are very proud of our performance since we first won the contract in 2012, during which time we have improved almost every aspect of the service while also significantly reducing the annual subsidy and thereby lowering the burden on the Scottish taxpayer.
“Serco will now build on that track record and success to bring further improvements in the coming years for the communities and businesses of the Northern Isles.”