West coast ferry operator CalMac is endeavouring to maintain essential lifeline services across all communities.
Essential work to the MV Loch Seaforth has meant that vessels and timetables have been temporarily changed across some of the islands served by CalMac.
The requirement for one of Arran's two regular summer vessels to support vital freight services between Stornoway and Ullapool has led to a temporary reduction in sailings between Ardrossan and Brodick.
However, extra provision to deal with the demand for Arran is being made available on the north end route onto the island from Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula to Lochranza. One extra vessel has been put in place to help compensate for the loss of the second ferry on the Brodick route.
Claonaig can be accessed by the main road or via a short drive from Tarbert on Loch Fyne, which is served by the CalMac crossing from Portavadie on the Cowal peninsula. If CalMac cancel Ardrossan-Brodick bookings, passengers affected are entitled to receive the costs incurred for using the Claonaig route as an alternative.
Planning and allocating spaces for commercial customers in advance has meant that CalMac is meeting the demand as it is presented for shipping at ports.
And a tailored combined timetable has been put in place to allow shellfish to be transported from Barra and South Uist to the mainland in time to get to fish markets.
Islanders who need to attend urgent medical appointments will always be accommodated on CalMac routes. This includes free taxi journeys to and from the ferry terminal and their NHS destination. This is in addition to a small number of Turn Up and Go (TUG) spaces, which are held back for people who need to travel at the last minute.
Work on the MV Loch Seaforth is progressing to plan and we are confident that full service will be resumed by May 18. This date is subject to change, and CalMac has pledged to keep customers informed throughout.
A specialist team of engineers is currently working with our team to carry out repairs to the vessel engines at the James Watt dock in Greenock.
The former Pentland Ferries vessel MV Pentalina is not available to provide cover while work is ongoing as she is only available for active service on four weeks' notice. We are investigating with Transport Scotland the option of leasing the Pentalina on a longer-term hire to provide additional resilience across the network.
Robbie Drummond, Managing Director, said: "Clearly, the loss of the MV Loch Seaforth and how this has affected other services has caused a lot of disruption to customers, and we are so sorry about this. We are working closely with local businesses to make sure that demand for travel is being met, and I am most grateful to them for their support, patience and understanding as we deal with this situation.
"We are confident that the MV Loch Seaforth will be back in service in a matter of weeks and the normal summer timetable will be back up and running as planned."