Serco NorthLink Ferries has officially begun operating the Scottish Government contract for ferry services from the Scottish mainland to the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands.
Managing director, Stuart Garrett, who was in Aberdeen today to meet staff and passengers as he took up his new post, took time to reassure people that for the remainder of 2012, timetables and ticket prices would stay the same.
He also explained that while retaining the NorthLink brand, that customers have become accustomed to, they could also expect to see exciting improvements being announced over the coming months with plans to invest in, grow and improve this lifeline service.
By the start of 2013 passengers can expect additional seating and new fully reclining seats, a refreshed catering service – including a new café bar and restaurant - and the introduction of onboard entertainment as well as enhanced WiFi access so that passengers can browse the internet or work while they travel.
Further changes will include a new online booking facility that is easier to use and regular travellers are also set to benefit from the trial of a loyalty scheme, rewarding passengers with discounts when they make multiple bookings.
Stuart will be based in Aberdeen and lead a management team who will be located across the Serco NorthLink Ferries network.
He said: “Serco will offer a local service led by a locally based management team. The team and I will be getting out and about to meet with and hear the views of the local community.
“The safety, quality and reliability of the service is my main motivation. Serco understands the importance of this service, but we’re also ready to grow this service – both in terms of passenger numbers and freight – and ultimately we plan to deliver this for the benefit of the Islanders, local businesses, tourism and the government.
“I’d also like to stress that whilst we plan to make changes to our freight service according to seasonality, our restructured operations will respond to varied demand throughout the year and the team and I will continue to engage with freight customers to work with them to meet demand.”