Commenting on the announcement that the Northern Isles ferry service contract preferred bidder will be Serco, Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “Today’s announcement that Serco Northlink has been designated as preferred bidder to continue to run our ferry services is welcome.
“Many in the islands will be relieved that the SNP’s attempts to impose an unwanted state-owned operator have finally been put to bed.
“However, as ever, the devil will be in the detail and the new arrangements will be scrutinised in the days and weeks to come.
“While reductions will be made to cabin costs for island residents, there appear to be no plans from the Minister to improve the availability of cabins at peak times.
“Equally, there seems to be no answers on the continuing issue of fare reductions and the legal disputes that have dogged the SNP’s long-delayed promise. A conclusion will be needed sooner rather than later to fulfil their pledges to the islands and to provide certainty to operators as we go forward.”