BRITISH Airways is to launch its first international flights from Scotland for eight years with a summer service between Edinburgh and Ibiza from May.
Today’s news marks a radical change of direction for the airline, which had previously insisted its sole focus in Scotland was on flying passengers to and from London, primarily to feed into its global hub at Heathrow.
The choice of route is also surprising for the “full service” airline, since no-frills and charter operators have cornered the market to such predominantly leisure destinations from other airports, and Jet2 and Thomson Airways already fly to Ibiza from the Scottish capital.
BA said the move was to make use of underutilized aircraft and crew, but while admitting it was a change of strategy, downplayed the possibility of developing a wider European route network from Scotland.
The British flag carrier axed its last international route from Scotland in 2006, between Edinburgh and Hamburg.
The airline’s last long-haul services from north of the Border, between Glasgow and New York, ended in 1998, and has since progressively slimmed down its route network north of the Border.
This has included selling its regional BA Connect subsidiary, which operated to non-London UK airports, to Flybe in 2007, while its contract with Loganair for Highlands and Islands flights also switched to Flybe the following year.
That has left BA flying between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen to Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports.