Scottish agents say the decision to allow Virgin Atlantic to take up former Bmi slots at Heathrow to start flights to Scotland will help grow the market while providing “robust competition”.

The Scottish Passenger Agents Association welcomed the European Commission’s decision on Monday to award all the ‘remedy slots’ relinquished by British Airways’ parent IAG in its takeover of Bmi to a single airline.

Virgin Atlantic plans to start services from Heathrow to Edinburgh and Aberdeen in March using leased Airbus short-haul aircraft.

The majority of SPAA members had called for just one carrier to be awarded the rights to provide strong competition on the two routes.

SPAA president Kevin Thom said: “This is an excellent outcome for Scottish business and leisure travellers – and it demonstrates an understanding by the European Commission of the needs of Scottish business and commerce.

“Undoubtedly, our travelling business community – consumers and providers – will get solidly behind the new Virgin Atlantic services to London Heathrow and beyond – on both Virgin and other international airlines with worldwide connectivity to offer.

“In addition, we firmly believe this decision will ultimately strengthen the position of the other airlines offering anglo-Scottish services, with whom we also work closely.

“Robust competition sustains product quality and diversity, and promotes competitive pricing – and that will grow the market for all the airlines involved.”