Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 16:29 UK

Take-off for 'lifeline' flights

Highland Airways aircraft
The first flight took off from Oban on Monday morning

The first scheduled flights between Oban and some of the Argyll islands has seen the start of a new era of air travel for the West Highlands.

The multi-million pound project has meant major upgrading at a number of airstrips.

Highland Airways is operating the services between Oban and Coll, Colonsay and Tiree in the Inner Hebrides.

Backers hope it will increase tourism and improve the lives of islanders.

Councillor Duncan MacIntyre, Argyll and Bute Council's transport spokesperson, said it was a special day.

We are looking forward to watching the success of the service grow in the coming months
Colin Munro
Highland Airways

He said: "The service will be another lifeline transport link to these outlying islands and I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their hard work in getting the service up and running.

"As well as paving the way ahead for expansion of services throughout Argyll and Bute and counteracting population decline, the development of Argyll Air Services will also see school pupils on the islands of Coll and Colonsay travelling home at weekends for a nominal 1 fare.

"This is a huge step forward and something which I am sure many, many parents and children are delighted about."

Colin Munro, contracts manager for Highland Airways, said: "Tickets went on sale last week and have been selling very well. We are delighted to be working alongside Argyll and Bute Council and are looking forward to watching the success of the service grow in the coming months."

The project costs about 9m, with funding from a variety of sources including Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government.

Scheduled flights already run between Tiree and Glasgow, but not Oban.

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