Leading Scottish agent Kevin Thom today voiced “real concern” over the sale of Gatwick take off and landing slots by Flybe to easyJet.

The Scottish Passenger Agents Association president is concerned over the potential threat to the only direct air link between Inverness and Gatwick.

EasyJet has not yet given details of how its will use the slots being acquired from Flybe for £20 million.

But Thom said: “Flybe is an important and valued partner of the SPAA and our members here in Scotland, and the airline provides many point-to-point and Anglo-Scottish connecting services to our business and leisure travellers.

“The possibility of the loss of our vital Inverness-Gatwick service is serious enough, but the implications for travellers connecting worldwide from the Scottish Highlands & Islands are just as serious – if not more so.

“Our members work with easyJet and we are very keen to see that carrier continuing to offer a comprehensive service between Gatwick and Inverness in Flybe’s absence, but of course that would not resolve the issue of lost airline alliance and codeshare benefits currently enjoyed by passengers.”

He added: “We very much hope a solution to the high costs of operation – perhaps in the form of a reduction in Gatwick’s charges, or financial intervention by the government – can be found.”

The SPAA is talking with both airlines, Gatwick and the UK and Scottish governments to explore what action might be taken to secure and maintain the Inverness service.

“The acceptance of Inverness-Gatwick as a ‘lifeline’ route is already enshrined in its exclusion, along with other services from the Highlands & Islands, from traveller APD charges,” the Association said.