The current contract to operate the Northern Isle Ferry service in the north-east has been extended.
Serco Northlink Ferries remains lead contender for the £345 million contract for the link between Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick.
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Minister for energy, connectivity and the islands Paul Wheelhouse announced the three-month extension due to ongoing complaints from Pentland Ferries regarding the contract.
He said: “We need to engage further with the European Commission about the ongoing complaint from Pentland Ferries and resolve any outstanding issues.
“The extension will allow us to conclude that engagement before signing the new contract with Serco NorthLink Ferries, as well as giving ferry users continuity of service in the short term.
“It is important to stress that will have no impact on the Scottish Government’s commitments around reduced cabin fares.”