The award means that the new contract securing these vital services will commence on October 1, 2007.
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:
"We are determined to maintain and improve Scotland's ferry services.
"This contract award secures lifeline ferry services across the Clyde and Hebrides.
"These ferries provide a vital link for goods and services to be transported to our remote and island communities, sustaining their economies. For these communities, a reliable ferry service is just as important as a new road or rail link in a large town or city. In fact, many would argue that it is even more important than that, as it is their only link to mainland Scotland and beyond.
"The CalMac bid has been closely scrutinised, and the contract incorporates some important service enhancements. This contract will deliver real improvements for all passengers using the services.
"I am aware of the strong feelings around the need for this tender, but completing the process was the quickest way to protect these vital services for those communities who depend on them.
"The new Scottish Government is looking at the fares structure for ferry services. We recently commissioned a study into Road Equivalent Tariff, making clear our desire to deliver a fairer deal for Scotland's ferry passengers."
The new contract provides for:
- Extending the double vessel service to Islay that has, in the past, operated during the peak summer season so that it covers the whole summer timetable period
- An improved winter timetable for Gigha
- An additional Friday evening and a Saturday evening sailing between Oban and Craignure on Mull during the winter
- An additional daily return sailing on the Ardrossan - Brodick route during the winter
- An additional sailing each week between Oban and Coll/Tiree between late October and Christmas
- The introduction of a performance regime intended to incentivise the operator to deliver the services to the standards laid down in the contract
V-Ships UK Ltd and CalMac Ferries Ltd were invited to tender in December 2006. V-Ships UK Ltd withdrew from the process in January 2007 leaving CalMac Ferries Ltd as the only bidder. The bid was subject to a robust and thorough evaluation by the Scottish Government assisted by independent financial, legal and maritime technical experts.
The contract, which will be worth £43 million in subsidy in year 1, will commence on October 1, 2007. CalMac Ferries Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of David MacBrayne Ltd, will operate the services. David MacBrayne Limited is in the ownership of Scottish Ministers.
The budgeted subsidy for the first year of operation is £43.0 million, subject to adjustments as necessary in the light of actual inflation and other factors provided for in the grant agreement. Thereafter, the subsidy will be calculated according to the terms of the detailed grant agreement, which was issued in draft to the two companies invited to tender for the contract.
The evaluation of CalMac Ferries Ltd's bid has been rigorous and thorough and has followed two strands - technical and financial. CalMac Ferries Ltd's technical bid was fully compliant, robust and technically acceptable and clearly reflected their expertise and wealth of experience in operating these lifeline ferry services. Likewise their financial bid was financially robust and provided value for money. Overall their bid demonstrated the company's ability to continue to deliver the lifeline ferry services in the Clyde and Hebrides area.
The contract will begin on October 1, 2007 and run until September 30, 2013.