FOLLOWING on from J Patrick Maclean’s letter (September 2), I would like to take the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about CalMac Ferries Limited and the provision of ferry services in Scotland.

There is no monopoly on ferry services in this country, which would be illegal under strict European laws. Allowing one operator to monopolise these routes would be highly unfair to both service providers and passengers who rely on the lifeline links. CalMac successfully tendered for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract in open competition. This contract was awarded to us following a fair and transparent bidding process, as determined by European rules.

CalMac does not design the ferries as stated by your correspondent. Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, which is an entirely separate organisation with its own board, is responsible for the procurement and delivery of the ferries and CalMac is the body that operates these ferries. That is an important distinction.

We take our responsibility to deliver a high quality and safe transport service to remote communities extremely seriously. It is vital that the fleet we use works as efficiently as possible and this involves new vessels being built to replace ageing vessels. Everyone involved is committed to getting these ships onto the water and serving communities in as safe and efficient a way as possible.

We firmly believe that we are delivering a secure and reliable service to islanders. An independent survey involving more than 7,000 people last month revealed 90 per customer satisfaction with CalMac during the Covid-19 crisis which, given the number of rapid changes in response to changing circumstances, is a tremendous endorsement of the commitment and skill of our staff.

Robbie Drummond, Managing Director, CalMac Ferries Ltd, Gourock.