The first British Airways early-morning flight between Inverness and London Heathrow for more than two decades took off from the Highland capital this morning.
British Airways customers were piped on board the aircraft by members of the Inverness Royal British Legion Pipe Band which, like the airline, is celebrating its centenary this year.
The service was operated by an Airbus 319 aircraft registration G-EUPJ, in the heritage livery of BEA, part of British Airways’ centenary celebrations.
The new Heathrow – Inverness schedule will see a 30 per cent increase in capacity on the route and brings the number of flights up to three return services on Saturdays and Sundays, with a double daily service Monday to Friday. From October British Airways will operate a double daily service between the two cities seven days a week.
This morning’s flight means that, for the first time since the route was reintroduced in 2016, British Airways customers will be able to travel between the two cities and return the same day, a major boost to the region’s business sector.
James Mackenzie-Blackman, Chief Executive of Eden Court Theatre, the principal arts venue in the Highlands, who was on BA1467 to London to conduct a full day’s business before flying back to Inverness on the evening service said: “The new schedule is a game-changing moment for Highland connectivity to London and the rest of the world. It makes it easier to do business and promote my own organisation and the region more broadly. It’s also a clear demonstration that business, tourism and economic growth is thriving in the Highlands and that’s a source of great pride and opportunity.”
Phyllis Stuart, British Airways’ Airport Manager at Inverness Airport, said: “This is an important day for British Airways, for Inverness and for the Scottish Highlands and Islands. The introduction of our new and expanded schedule gives the people and businesses of Inverness and the Highlands and Islands even greater access to more than 150 destinations on our global network from Heathrow.
Departures from Inverness airport do not have Air Passenger Duty (APD) which also benefits the route.
“This is British Airways’ centenary year, so we were delighted that members of the Inverness Royal British Legion Pipe Band, which is also celebrating its 100th birthday, were with us today to mark the start of our new expanded schedule.”
Graeme Bell, General Manager at Inverness Airport, said: “The air link between these two cities goes from strength to strength and we very much welcome these additional flights. The new service will provide business travellers with more flexibility and connectivity between the two cities. The additional flights will also enhance worldwide connections to the Highlands and Islands, making the area even more attractive to overseas visitors keen to experience the best of what our region has to offer.”