Highlands & Islands Regional MSP, Rhoda Grant has criticised  plans by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd to charge passengers to park their cars at Sumburgh, Kirkwall and Stornoway Airports from 1 July, this year.

Rhoda Grant said “ Whilst I realise that parking charges already are enforced at Inverness and Dundee Airports, we are supposed to be doing all we can to maintain and encourage people to come to our islands.

“At the same time the Islands Bill is looking at how those resident on our islands are less disadvantaged and create a level playing field with those residing on the mainland and how best these fragile economies can be supported and boosted.

“HIAL are already looking to close Control Towers at most of their Highlands & Islands airports and have one centrally based air traffic control. This particular decision will mean that experienced jobs on our islands may well be lost.

“These parking charges mean Islanders currently working a two week shift offshore may now pay upwards of £42 to park their car at the airport with a flat charge of £3 per day.

“ Notwithstanding the above I do welcome the planned one hour free drop off zone and the exemption for those accessing health care. That said I would have liked to have seen HIAL consult with the island communities concerned before making this decision.

“We have initiatives such as the Air Discount Scheme designed to encourage islanders to make use of air travel. Now with this decision we are to charge passengers for parking their vehicles which seems to fly in the face of the ADS initiative.

“I have written to HIAL Managing Director, Inglis Lyon, raising my concerns.”