Scotland’s Western Isles will get a direct connection with London – or at least Essex – from May 2019.
The new link is part of a package of new flights between Southend airport and Scotland from the Glasgow-based airline Loganair.
From 28 May, a Loganair jet will depart Southend on weekdays at 8.30am, reaching Glasgow at 9.45am. Half-an-hour later, the same aircraft will take off again for Stornoway, reaching the capital of the Outer Hebrides at 11.10am.
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The southbound journey leaves the Western Isles’ main airport at 12.50pm, again with a stop in Glasgow, arriving in Southend at 3.35pm.
The new flight avoids the usual change of plane for Stornoway flights in Edinburgh, Glasgow or inverness. It will also form one of three daily return services between Southend and Glasgow from 28 May.
Loganair will also launch three flights each weekday between Southend and Aberdeen on 12 May.
There are fewer services on the new routes on Sundays, and none on Saturdays.
Stornoway is the biggest town on the Isle of Lewis, which is part of the same landmass as the Isle of Harris.
The flights will offer connections to and from other Western Isles destinations, including Barra, Benbecula, Islay and Tiree, as well as Kirkwall in Orkney and Sumburgh in Shetland.
The airline flies mostly propeller aircraft, but these new services will be aboard 49-seat Embraer 145 jets.
One-way fares start at £40 to Glasgow, £50 to Aberdeen and £100 to Stornoway. They include a 20kg bag and inflight soft drinks.
Because the Stornoway flights operate to Southend under the same flight number, residents of the Western Isles will qualify for half-price “core fares” through Scotland’s Air Discount Scheme.
The airline’s managing director, Jonathan Hinkles, said: “These new fast and frequent flights to London’s favourite airport, together with our inclusive checked baggage allowance and on-board service, make this a hugely significant development.”
Scotland’s busiest airport Edinburgh, is a notable absentee from the wave of new flights.
The airline is avoiding the stiff competition on links to the Scottish capital from nearby airports: British Airways and Flybe operate from London City, while easyJet and Ryanair are rivals from Stansted.
Loganair is owned by Airline Investments Limited, the holding company of Flybmi – the regional airline which closed down earlier this month due to mounting losses.