AN air service linking the Highlands with Dublin is to take off later this year.
Flybe has announced the new route between Inverness and the Irish capital will start on 26 October with one way fares from £29.99, including taxes
The airline has also confirmed extra a flights on its Birmingham and Belfast City routes - increasing to six times a week - and to Manchester - to three flights a day.
This news follows its announcement last month of a new twice daily service to London City which also starts on the same day.
Fred Kochak, Flybe UK Routes’ director, said: “We are committed to providing the best possible connectivity to and from the Highlands and Islands.
“Today’s announcement means that the Highlands and Islands will have regular, direct access to three European capitals of Amsterdam, Dublin and London, as well as high frequency to Manchester, a growing regional and intercontinental hub in its own right.
“Flybe is an airline based in the regions and it understands how important these kinds of services are to underpin a flourishing business and leisure environment.”
Flybe announced the new Inverness to London City route after pulling out of its Highland Capital to Gatwick service in March with the loss of 35 local jobs.
Flybe operated a service between Inverness and Gatwick Airport before selling the slots to Easyjet in a £20m deal last year.
Highland MP Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the news “illustrates the confidence that more and more businesses have in the Highlands”.
He added: “This announcement is a very welcome addition to the rapidly expanding operations at Inverness airport that has huge potential as an economic hub.
“That is part of the reason why business investment in the Highlands is going from strength to strength. Developing the right transport infrastructure, to meet demand now and in the future, is essential.”
Transport minister Keith Brown said improving connectivity to the Highlands was a big boost for local companies looking to do business further afield, and also made it “even more attractive for visitors to come and enjoy the fantastic tourist experience on offer in the North of Scotland”.
He added: “Dublin is an important transatlantic hub, and Birmingham also offers a wide range of connecting destinations to the US and Europe.
“We want to see further growth at Inverness Airport in the future and will continue to support Highland and Islands Airports Limited’s efforts to make this happen.”
Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of Inverness Airport operator HIAL, said the airport had been working with Flybe to expand further.
He added: “It shows real confidence from Flybe in Inverness airport. In growing our international connections, hub airport connectivity is vital and HIAL is making the case for improved connectivity to hub airports such as Manchester, Dublin and Amsterdam and the onward connections they offer with Flybe’s codeshare partners, Etihad Airways, Air France and KLM.”
Flybe’s 2014-15 winter schedule from Inverness features a total of seven routes with a choice of up to 116 flights a week.