Budget airline easyJet got its revived service between Aberdeen and Manchester off the ground this morning.
The Luton-based carrier has also doubled the number of its flights between the Granite City and London Gatwick just a few years after controversially scrapping the key route.
The Aberdeen-Manchester service had been introduced early last summer but it was swiftly axed because of Scottish Government restrictions on travel to the English city.
It has been reintroduced on a seasonal basis, with fares starting at £22.99, offering north-east travellers the chance to connect with flights to more than 200 destinations by 70-plus airlines from the UK’s third busiest airport.
The route is expected to appeal to people looking to explore “new” parts of the UK, as well as those wanting to reconnect with friends and family after the Covid lockdowns.
Having more flights to Gatwick creates better links between Aberdeen and a key aviation hub, with all its onward travel possibilities, and more options for business travellers.
EasyJet’s first flight of the day to Gatwick took off just after 6am today, with a second departing on time at 4.10pm.
The first Manchester-bound flight, EZY328, took off around 8.45pm, with north-east MSP Liam Kerr and Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid both at the airport to see it off.
When will easyJet Aberdeen to Manchester flights operate?
The Manchester flights operate every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday until October 28. Flights to Gatwick are now twice daily until October 29.
Aberdeen International Airport operations director Mark Beveridge said today’s take-offs were an important step towards restoring the north-east gateway to a level of business it enjoyed before the pandemic.
A full recovery to more than three million passengers a year may not come until 2025 but the airport’s bosses hope to break through 2.1m this year, he added.
Mr Beveridge said easyJet’s confidence in Aberdeen would help to stop a drain of passengers to Edinburgh and Glasgow, and make the Granite City airport a more viable option closer to home.
London Gatwick calling
He added: “It is great to see easyJet growing its offering and presence at Aberdeen International Airport, with the seasonal Manchester route returning today and London Gatwick service now twice daily.
“Rebuilding our connectivity will play a vital role in supporting the economic recovery of the north-east.
“The Gatwick route has been incredibly popular, so we are delighted easyJet is doubling its daily frequency to meet demand.
Ali Gayward, UK Country Manager for easyJet, said the airline may consider other potential routes from Aberdeen if its services to Gatwick, Manchester and Luton prove popular, and as pent-up demand boosts the demand for flights throughout Europe.
She added: “We are looking ahead to what we expect to be a strong summer for easyJet, with plans to return to near 2019 levels of flying.”
Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce chief executive Russell Borthwick described the Gatwick and Manchester links as “key economic arteries”.
Rebuilding our connectivity is one of the biggest challenges we face as we seek to build a stronger post-pandemic economy.”
He added: “Not only do these important routes connect our business to key markets, but they also connect the rest of the UK to our wealth of culture, amazing heritage, great food and drink and one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.
“Rebuilding our connectivity is one of the biggest challenges we face as we seek to build a stronger post-pandemic economy and this announcement represents a significant step forward.”
VisitAberdeenshire chief executive Chris Foy said: “The doubling of the daily service from London Gatwick and the return of the seasonal service from Manchester is hugely positive for the region as potential visitors start planning their getaways for this summer.”