A NEW non-stop flight between Edinburgh and Philadelphia is to be launched by a major airline next year.
The scheduled service will be operated daily by US Airways between May and October.
The announcement was welcomed by ministers and tourism chiefs, who said it was a “timely vote of confidence in Scotland” as it prepares to host the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup in 2014.
US Airways said it would use a 176-seat dual-class Boeing 757 aircraft on the route between Philadelphia International Airport and Scotland’s capital.
The airline said the new flights will complement its existing services between Philadelphia and other European destinations such as Glasgow, Dublin and London Heathrow.
Andrew Nocella, the airline’s senior vice president, marketing and planning, said: “US Airways’ new non-stop service will offer travellers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean a direct connection between the unique, historic cities of Edinburgh and Philadelphia.
“This is our first opportunity to serve Scotland’s capital from our Philadelphia gateway and we look forward to strengthening our ability to help customers explore the British Isles.”
VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “US Airway’s announcement of thousands of new seats into Scotland is a massive and timely vote of confidence in Scotland and the appeal it holds for US travellers.
“2014 is set to be a massive year for Scotland. The eyes of the world will be on our country like never before. Huge global events including the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games as well as Homecoming Scotland will ensure that 2014 delivers great opportunities for not only tourism businesses but for the whole of the Scottish economy.
“Strengthening our position through new and enhanced links to our largest overseas market is imperative as we work to exploit what is undoubtedly a once-in-a-generation opportunity for tourism.”
The news was also welcomed by transport minister Keith Brown.
He said: “This announcement will bolster Scotland’s economy by supporting tourism, trade and investment, and also helps to strengthen our enduring relationship with the United States.
“Improving direct routes overseas helps to reduce the need for travellers to make extra connecting flights via London or the continent, making Scotland even more attractive to tourists and businesses.”
Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “This is another great result for Edinburgh and one which will see our American route network grow considerably.
“Next summer will be a hugely exciting time with the Ryder Cup and Year of Homecoming to look forward to. We’re pleased to be working with US Airways and allowing more American passengers to experience all that Scotland has to offer.
“Scots will also have the chance to visit this amazing city and the added opportunity to travel onwards to destinations like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii.”
The service will begin on May 23 and run until October 1.