TWO flights from Inverness to London Gatwick look set to be lost as easyJet announce their summer 2014 schedule.
The morning and evening flight used frequently by business users will remain, but the announcement confirms the loss of 50 per cent of the flights currently available.
Flybe currently offers passengers flights departing to London at 0700, 1400, 1705 and returning at 0926, 1615 and 1920.
Meanwhile easyJet offers a flight departing from Inverness at 13.40, London Gatwick bound. There is no plans to offer this flight next year.
However easyJet argues the planes it flies to London Gatwick twice a day, plus it's Luton bound flight once a day, are all bigger in capacity overall.
The new routes provided by easyJet will depart Inverness every weekday at 6:40 and 15:20 return from Gatwick at 12:55 and 20:25.
Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s Highlands and Islands manager, Fraser Grieve said: “easyJet’s newly published timetable shows that they are putting in place a service which enables people to travel down to Gatwick first thing in the morning and return in the evening allowing a full day’s work to be conducted. This was seen as the top priority for the regions businesses in a recent survey conducted by SCDI and I am pleased that this is being put in place.
“Whilst capacity will increase, there will however be a reduction in the number of air services between Inverness and Gatwick and morning northbound traffic will only be delivered through easyJet’s existing Luton service, so we do not know yet what effect that might have on traffic from London.
“SCDI will continue to make the case for action to be taken to ensure that access to London’s major airports is protected going forward and will work to make these new services a success.”
Hugh Aitken, easyJet’s Head of Scotland, said: "easyJet has today put on sale thousands of additional seats between Inverness and London Gatwick as part of our commitment to supporting the Highlands economy.
"The new early flight will allow business travellers to reach London in time for meetings while the evening departure from London enables them to travel home on the same day. The new services start from £17.99 and we hope the introduction of additional affordable fares will encourage more people to enjoy trips to the Highlands.
"When considering the timetable we listened to all the points made by government and business leaders. Their enthusiasm to work with easyJet has been clear from the start and we hope this support will continue throughout the new five year partnership agreed with Inverness Airport."
In April easyJet confirmed it had signed a deal to purchase 25 additional slots at Gatwick airport from Flybe. easyJet held a series of meetings with HIAL, Transport and Veterans Minister Keith Brown MSP, Danny Alexander MP, Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, The Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to understand their views on the future of services between Inverness and London.