THE UK’S largest airline, easyJet, is due to launch its first flight to Newquay Cornwall Airport on Thursday.
The plane is due to touch down at 8.20am, carrying the first of 20,000 visitors expected to use the London Southend to Newquay service this summer.
It will be piloted by 28-year-old, Liskeard-born Richard Andrews.
The Southend route will soon be the Cornish airport’s only link with the capital after Flybe announced it is scrapping its Gatwick flights from March 29 next year.
Airline bosses blamed airport charges, air passenger duty and “penalistic” government policy for their decision.
They sold all of the company’s arrival and departure slots at Gatwick to Easyjet for £20 million.
Tourism and community leaders have stressed the economic importance of maintaining a strong air link between the Duchy and London.
Malcolm Bell, of tourist board Visit Cornwall, said he was hopeful easyJet could resurrect the Newquay to Gatwick link. He said: “Having the [link to London] is good for the economy and tourism, and vital for business tourism.”
Newquay and St Austell MP Stephen Gilbert added: “The link between London and Cornwall is absolutely vital for Cornwall’s economy; providing a route to market in the south east of England and further afield for Cornish goods and services, as well as an efficient link for visitors to get to Cornwall.”
* easyJet will also introduce flights to and from Liverpool Airport on July 4.