An air link between Stornway and Southend is being established as part of an extended anglo-Scottish network by Loganair.

The Scottish carrier will serve the largest town in the Western Islands of Scotland as an extension of three flights a day on weekdays planned to Glasgow from the Essex airport.

The airline will also start a route between Southend and Aberdeen from May 28 and is planning an Edinburgh link later this year.

The expansion means that Stornoway gains its first direct route to London, albeit with a 30 minute stop-over in Glasgow and a 53-minute train connection from Southend to Liverpool Street station in the capital.

Fares between Southend and Stornoway start at £82.99 one-way with flights operated by a 49-seat Embrear 145 regional jet.

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “It’s a great honour launch the first ever island air service direct to London, a huge boost to Stornoway’s overall connectivity.

“While we’ve been extending our destination map over the last year, the Highlands and Islands are still the airline’s heartland so we’re continually looking at ways to enhance the region’s overall air network.

“We’re confident Stornoway will see a boost in visitor numbers from people in south-east England wishing to visit the Highlands and Islands with only a quick stopover in Glasgow.”

Stornoway airport manager Duncan Smith said: “It is great news for Stornoway and the Western Isles. It’s a direct flight with only a short stop in Glasgow, but passengers will not require to disembark.

“The Embraer 145 aircraft has a bigger passenger capacity, with 49 seats compared with 34 seats on the Saab 340, which boosts capacity between Glasgow and Stornoway, which is an added bonus.”

Highlands and Islands Airports managing director Inglis Lyon added: “Loganair are to be commended on establishing this valuable new service that further improves connectivity between the Western Isles and the south of England.

“It illustrates the value of having modern, sustainable airports serving local communities.

“Islanders will benefit from excellent transport links from Southend into central London and Loganair’s new service will also benefit inbound tourism making journeys to the islands all the more attractive to visitors keen to discover the best of what Scotland has to offer.”

The introduction of flights from Southend came as Loganair stepped in to take over a subsidised route between Stansted and City of Derry airport following the collapse of flybmi.