Brown meets with easyJet to discuss Inverness-Gatwick service

Transport Minister Keith Brown met with easyJet representatives in Edinburgh this morning to discuss connectivity between Inverness and London Gatwick.

Last month Flybe announced a proposed £20 million sale to easyJet of all of its take-off and landing slots at London Gatwick airport, including the slots currently used on the vital link with the highland capital. The deal is still subject to Flybe shareholder approval.

Transport Minister, Keith Brown said:

“It is not surprising many concerns have been raised by local business and community representatives in the days since Flybe announced their decision to sell all of their arrival and departure slots at London Gatwick.

“The removal of the Flybe service next year, which provides around 100,000 passengers with a link to an international gateway, and the business community in the north of Scotland with services allowing them to return from the south east on the same day, could have a detrimental effect on the region’s long term economic development and prosperity.

“Flybe provided early reassurances that the current service levels will continue until summer 2014, when the slots are passed to easyJet. Today’s meeting allowed me the opportunity to underline the Scottish Government’s desire to see easyJet operating additional services from Inverness.

“I welcomed easyJet's commitment to maintaining their existing capacity between Inverness and London Gatwick and London Luton and their openness to consider more flights from Inverness. easyJet, which is the largest operator out of Scotland, already provides a valuable link to Gatwick and I hope that this can be expanded next year.

“All of this is of course against a backdrop of Westminister applying Air Passenger Duty (APD) on UK domestic airlines at levels which are having a crippling effect on their ability to operate – indeed Flybe cited APD as one of the factors for them pulling out of Gatwick.

“It is clear to me and anyone who sees the damaging effects that the punitive levels of this tax burden is having on airlines, airports and the Scottish economy – that the powers to apply APD be devolved by Westminster immediately. I will be demanding an early meeting with Danny Alexander to make this point yet again.

“Northern Ireland is already benefitting from the devolution of these powers - it is simply wrong to deny Scotland the ability to put a sensible and fair regime in place of APD, and avoid any further damage to Scotland’s economy.”

Published 5 Jun 2013