By John Huston airwaysmag.com
British Airways (BA) has stopped its flights between Inverness (INV) and London Heathrow (LHR) due to England’s COVID-19 lockdown.
According to a report today by the BBC, the lockdown, includes a “stay at home” message. It is due to last until December 2. BA has not given a date for the resumption of the flights.
Inverness Chamber of Commerce has described BA’s move as “disappointing.” BA reinstated the scheduled flights in 2016 after a gap of almost 20 years. In 2016, Inverness greeted those on the first flight to land at the airport with a welcoming party, including a piper, according to the report.
Businesses in the region had desired a resumption of the service for years. A survey of more than 290 businesses in the Highlands and Islands in 2013 suggested Heathrow remained a key destination. Survey participants said they had to travel to airports in Aberdeen, Glasgow, or Edinburgh so they could fly to Heathrow for meetings in London and the south east of England.
Following BA’s announcement, Inverness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stewart Nicol said, “It’s not a surprise. But it’s a real blow. We fought long and hard to get that route re-established. And I think for many years it was the best performing domestic route in the UK.” He added, “It’s a very clear indication of the damage that the global pandemic is doing to the airline industry.”
British Airways Taking Measures
British Airways said its focus is on keeping “crucial” air links open for bringing home thousands of customers who were abroad, providing services to people making essential journeys within the UK, and for transporting vital goods.
A spokesman added, “We will soon contact customers whose flights are cancelled to offer refund option. Customers who wish to change their booking can do so via ba.com. They can also request a voucher online for future travel if their flight continues to operate.”
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, which runs Inverness Airport, said the pandemic continued to have a “significant impact” on air travel.
A spokesman said, “We are in close contact with our colleagues at the airline and we continue to implement full Covid-19 mitigation measures at our airports. The safety of our colleagues and passengers remains our top priority. Customers with specific queries about flights already booked should contact their airline.”