Airline will head to Heathrow for the first time next year to connect the UK’s largest international airport with two of Scotland’s major cities
Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, is set to launch two new routes between Scotland and Heathrow in 2017 – creating more than 40 scheduled flights a week from Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
It will operate the slots which became available as a result of commitments required by the European Commission following BMI’s acquisition by International Consolidated Airlines Group.
According to Edinburgh Airport, Flybe is not required to pay to use the slots, other than meet Heathrow landing and passenger charges. The slots will not be purchased by Flybe and will therefore not be brought onto the balance sheet.
The airline will use Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and offer ‘One Stop to the World’ connectivity to its codeshare and interline partners.
Its two new routes will complement Flybe’s well-established London City flights from the two Scottish airports and are earmarked for both business and leisure travel.
This route expansion means that, with effect from 26 March 2017, Flybe will offer up to 18 flights a day between London and Edinburgh, and 10 between London and Aberdeen.
Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport’s chief executive, said: “This new direct service from Flybe between Edinburgh Airport and London Heathrow means greater choice and lots more options to connect to the world – it is fantastic news for passengers.
“2016 has been another tremendous year of growth here at Edinburgh Airport and we look forward with confidence to the year ahead.”
Flybe’s executive chairman, Simon Laffin, said: “We are delighted to announce our first flights to London Heathrow, significantly enhancing our UK domestic route network and offering even better links between Scotland and London.
“The new routes to Heathrow complement the existing ones we operate to London City, and will benefit our business customers and customers in Scotland who want to connect with our long haul codeshare partners.
“Flybe is the leading airline serving UK domestic passengers and these new services position us well to serve our passengers in both Scotland and the South East.
“We have long been lobbying for Heathrow to offer more opportunities for domestic flights to enhance regional connectivity.
“Whilst other operators may have dismissed the possibility of further domestic routes into Heathrow, we look forward to working with the airport to further expand the range of domestic destinations.”
Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “Improving the connections into Heathrow from all around the UK will be vital in helping to secure the economic future of communities in every corner of the nation.
“Today’s announcement shows that the measures we’re introducing, such as the £10 reduction on domestic passenger charges, are already working to secure vital links.
“More airlines flying routes to Scottish airports means more flights, more competition and choice for families, and more visitors to Scotland.
“With Flybe based at Terminal 2, it also means new, unique direct access from Heathrow to markets such as Colombia, Taipei and Auckland – meaning more opportunity for Scottish businesses looking to reach new export markets.”
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, said: “This is very welcome news and encouraging evidence that the reduced passenger charges we pushed for, and which are covered in our Memorandum of Understanding with Heathrow Airport, are starting to have a real impact on services.
“Over time, we fully expect this and other elements of the MoU to bring about further improvements in Scotland’s connections to Heathrow and beyond.
“We spoke to a number of airlines to highlight the opportunities which these remedy slots bring. By taking them up, Flybe brings competition back to the routes from Heathrow to Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
“This can only be a good thing for passengers between Scotland and London. It’s also good news for Edinburgh and Aberdeen Airports too, in terms of the choice they can offer their customers.
“We will work with both Flybe and Heathrow to make sure these services are a success and I look forward to the flights taking off next year.”
UK Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “These routes are great news for passengers and businesses who rely on strong links between Scotland and Heathrow, the UK’s major hub airport, opening up more opportunities to connect Aberdeen and Edinburgh with destinations around the world.
“It’s precisely these sorts of connections which make expanding Heathrow the preferred choice for the UK, to deliver an economy that works for everyone.”