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Blow to Highlands as Flybe suspends London flights

FlybeDomestic airline Flybe is suspending its Inverness to London service because of lack of demand in a further blow to the Highlands capital.

The airline signed a five-year deal with London City Airport and only launched the twice-daily service from 27 October.

It expected the new route to appeal particularly to business travellers wanting quick access into the financial district.

The Inverness-London City provided Inverness with a third London link, after EasyJet’s Gatwick and Luton flights.

It is thought, however, that the inability of Flybe’s Europe-bound passengers to check luggage through to their destination would have contributed to its failure. The airline’s other London City routes are all in the UK and Ireland.

At the time of the announcement in April Saad Hammad, Flybe’s chief executive , hailed the news as “a significant landmark in the re-birth of Flybe.”

Danny Alexander, Highland MP and Chief Secretary to the Treasury, described it as a “strong show of confidence from Flybe that cements the Highlands’ place as a beacon for business and adds to Inverness Airport’s growing reputation as a investment and transport hub.”

Flybe said today it would be upgrading flights to London City from Edinburgh to six a day and from Belfast to four a day.

A spokeswoman said: “Flybe constantly reviews its schedule as part of its disciplined approach to growth.

“As a result, Flybe is regrettably suspending its Inverness to London City service with effect from Sunday February 22 due to lower than anticipated passenger numbers.

“Flights on the Exeter to London City service will reduce from three to two a day from Monday February 23 in line with the current business usage.

“Flybe will continue to review this increasingly popular route and will add extra frequencies back into the schedule when appropriate.

“Overall, Flybe expects to fly at least half a million passengers annually on its routes to and from London City Airport. These services provide direct links across the UK and Ireland into the heart of London and offer a faster and cheaper alternative to road, rail and ferry travel.”

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