Business briefing at noon

A pair of CalMac ferries pass each other in Obay Bay

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Ferry ticket price hike frozen

A planned rise in ticket prices for CalMac ferries on the Clyde and Hebrides network has been temporarily frozen, Transport Scotland has announced.

The measure is to help island residents and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, it said.

Paul Wheelhouse, minister for energy, connectivity and the islands, said: ‘Supply chains to and from our island communities are vitally important, so we must continue to support them.

‘It remains the case that people need to avoid all but essential travel by ferry to and from Scotland’s remote and island communities, but this fare freeze will help those that have to make journeys at this difficult time.’

Isles MP Angus B MacNeil commented: ‘This will be some relief to businesses who are like so many, under financial pressure.’

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Fishing support welcomed

Argyll and Bute council leader Aileen Morton has backed the Scottish government for its £5 million support package for the seafood fishing industry.

Councillor Morton said: ‘Seafood, fishing and hospitality are all vital industries that contribute to the economic development across Argyll and Bute. The outbreak is having a devastating impact on our coastal communities with the collapse of export and hospitality markets.

‘I am pleased that the government has recognised the need to offer financial support to all businesses during this difficult time.’

Marine Scotland will be writing to all vessels and relevant representative associations with more details. Queries can be emailed to:

Green MSP says airports decision is ‘right’

The decision by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) to prioritise lifeline flights and services has been backed by Green MSP for the region John Finnie.

From Sunday, HIAL will close its 11 airports to ‘general aviation’ but will continue to provide vital services going for the NHS and mail delivery.

Airports include those at Tiree, Islay and Campbeltown

Mr Finnie said: ‘This is clearly a decision HIAL took with a heavy heart, but it is the right choice and necessary to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. It also ensures that essential services like NHS passenger transport are the top priority at the moment.’

Self-employed scheme cannot drag on, says STA

Not all tourism staff will benefit from the new self-employed income support scheme announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak, according to the Scottish Tourism Alliance.

Whilst hailing the move, the STA said it may not be the solution for those who split part time employed work with self-employment or those who have only recently gone self-employed.

The STA has been inundated with enquiries from tour guides, chefs, coach drivers, small bed and breakfast owners and others and said it had raised the self employment issue with the Scottish and UK governments.

‘There will be many who are in need of a source of income now, not all of whom will be eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme therefore we would urge the UK government to bring forward the introduction of this welcomed support scheme as soon as is possible. The process importantly, must be easy for all and speed is of the essence.’