British Airways today cemented the restoration of its Inverness-Heathrow route by announcing flights would be doubled three days a week.
The announcement came within an hour of an expected delay in air tax cuts by the Scottish Government, in the latest sign that current tax levels are not deterring airlines from expansion.
BA said its current daily flights between the Highland capital and the UK's hub airport would be doubled to twice daily on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from next March.
The extra return flights will operate between late afternoon and mid evening.
The airline relaunched the route last year after an 19-year absence.
READ MORE: Air tax cuts may be delayed http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/scottish-government-admits-air-tax-cut-could-be-delayed-1-4578293
BA Inverness manager Phyllis Stuart said, “We’re delighted to be able to offer our customers more flights from the Highland capital, offering more seats on the route after a successful start to the route.
“We, and our partners at Inverness Airport and the business communities in Inverness and the Highland region, have worked tirelessly to encourage business and leisure travellers to use the new route for the benefit of the businesses and individuals in the region.
“The increased frequency on the route is the result of that partnership, and further demonstrates British Airways’ long-standing commitment to the Highlands and Islands.”
Inglis Lyon, managing director of Scottish Government-owned Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) , which includes Inverness, said: "The new schedule provides additional two-way connectivity with destinatons such as Atlanta, San Diego, Phoenix, Berlin and Mexico City.
“We can also anticipate more than 10 per cent additional inbound passengers to the Highlands and Islands to experience all the north of Scotland has to offer.”
Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce said, “This is excellent news for Inverness and the Highlands and Islands as it strengthens one of the most important routes out of Inverness Airport.
“BA’s commitment to Inverness and this route is most welcome and demonstrates the importance of the highland business community to their global network.”
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We’re thrilled about the popularity of the Inverness route and excited to see the number of flights will be increased to meet growing demand in the region.
"The additional connections between Inverness and Heathrow will provide a boost to businesses looking to export via the UK’s hub airport, but also encourage trade and tourism within the region.”
British Airways previously operated the route between 1968 and 1997, ending it for "commercial reasons".