Council hopeful of retaining Gatwick links as Easyjet buy Flybe slots

The Leader of The Highland Council Councillor Drew Hendry is hopeful that Easyjet, the new owners of Flybe’s Gatwick Inverness slots, will recognise the huge importance to the economy of the Highlands of good air links to London by maintaining a high level of service on the route.

Councillor Hendry has been in touch with Scottish Transport Secretary Keith Brown, Inverness Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey MP Danny Alexander, Inverness and Nairn MSP, Fergus Ewing, and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd to discuss the best way forward to ensure continuity of the links between the Highland capital and the international hub at Gatwick.

The Council will be liaising closely with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, HIAL and will be represented at a meeting tomorrow (Friday) called by the SCDI to discuss developments regarding air links to London.

The Leader will also be writing to Easyjet to seek a meeting about the company’s future plans.

He said: “The Council has, as its top priority, the economy of the Highlands, and these connections are of immense importance to our economy.  The slots are crucial for business connections, tourism and inward investment. Clearly we are eager to receive assurances over the timings of future services and will do everything that is in our power to retain the current level of service.”

Councillor Thomas Prag, Chair of Planning Environment and Development Committee, said: “The importance of daily return flights between Inverness and Gatwick, which allow people to do a day’s business,  cannot be under-estimated.   It is a highly popular route for those commuting to London and for those business people and holiday-makers travelling to worldwide destinations.

“It’s good to know that Flybe will be continuing the existing services until at least March of next year.  This gives us time to talk to Easyjet and our partners.”

23 May 2013