The new contract will continue the high-quality services and provide improved customer communications and services.
In particular, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse commented that
The Scottish Government remains fully committed to high quality ferry links to the Northern Isles so I am delighted to announce Serco NorthLink as the preferred bidder to operate these services for a further eight years.
Moreover, following the existing 30% discount for passengers and vehicles, from January islanders will have a further 20% year round discount on cabin fares on Aberdeen-Kirkwall-Lerwick routes and also benefit from a three year fare exception for all passengers, non-commercial vehicles and cabins. It was further noted that Scottish Ministers will retain control of all of the key areas, such as fees and timetabling through the public service contract.
The new contract will also take into account the flexibility needed in order to allow scheduled freight and ferry services to be adjusted and better reflect any fluctuations in demand from sector to sector throughout the year, with the aim to help local economies to thrive and to further support key areas of tourism, fishing, food and drink and agriculture.
include the upgrade of ten cabins to premium class, upgraded terminal facilities at Hatston, and improved customer communications and services.
Lastly, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse stated that
The new contract also reflects the the Scottish Government’s commitment to the Fair Work Framework, providing pension protections and security of employment for the staff involved in the delivery of the ferry services.