Flybe is to gain access to Heathrow for the first time with two routes to Scotland.

The regional carrier is to serve Edinburgh and Aberdeen from March 26, 2017, with fares starting at £39.99 one-way.

Flybe will operate slots which became available as a result of commitments required by the European Commission following the acquisition of BMI by British Airways owner International Airlines Group.

Flybe is not required to pay to use the slots, other than to meet Heathrow landing and passenger charges, the airline said. The new routes will complement existing flights from London City airport to two Scottish airports. 

Flybe will use Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and will offer connectivity to its codeshare and interline partners.  The carrier will run up to 18 flights a day between London and Edinburgh, and 10 between London and Aberdeen.

Flybe will be operating two out of three domestic routes from Heathrow – Edinburgh and Aberdeen – that defunct Virgin Atlantic subsidiary Virgin Little Red was forced to withdraw from in 2015 after incurring heavy losses. 

Flybe executive chairman Simon Laffin said:  “We are delighted to announce our first flights to London Heathrow, significantly enhancing our UK domestic route network and offering even better links between Scotland and London.

“The new routes to Heathrow complement the existing ones we operate to London City, and will benefit our business customers and customers in Scotland who want to connect with our long-haul codeshare partners.

“Flybe is the leading airline serving UK domestic passengers and these new services position us well to serve our passengers in both Scotland and the south-east. 

“We have long been lobbying for Heathrow to offer more opportunities for domestic flights to enhance regional connectivity.

“Whilst other operators may have dismissed the possibility of further domestic routes into Heathrow, we look forward to working with the airport to further expand the range of domestic destinations.”

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye added: “Improving the connections into Heathrow from all around the UK will be vital in helping to secure the economic future of communities in every corner of the nation.

“Today’s announcement shows that the measures we’re introducing, such as the £10 reduction on domestic passenger charges, are already working to secure vital links. More airlines flying routes to Scottish airports means more flights, more competition and choice for families, and more visitors to Scotland.

“With Flybe based at Terminal 2, it also means new, unique direct access from Heathrow to markets such Colombia, Taipei and Auckland – meaning more opportunity for Scottish businesses looking to reach new export markets.”

Aviation minister Lord Ahmad satd: “These routes are great news for passengers and businesses who rely on strong links between Scotland and Heathrow, the UK’s major hub airport, opening up more opportunities to connect Aberdeen and Edinburgh with destinations around the world.

“It is precisely these sorts of connections which make expanding Heathrow the preferred choice for the UK, to deliver an economy that works for everyone.”