New daily flights to the heart of London have been launched from Newcastle Airport.
The inaugural journey to London City departed on Monday morning and took just over an hour to reach the capital.
The service, which is operated Flybe’s franchise partner Eastern Airways, is expected to carry over 17,000 passengers during 2019.
The airline’s new route is the only direct scheduled flight connecting Newcastle with central London, opening both destinations up to more business travel as well as tourism.
To mark the occasion, an iconic red London bus was driven onto the runway next to the Eastern Airways Saab 2000 aircraft.
Richard Knight, chief operating officer at Newcastle Airport, said: “It is very exciting to see any brand new route take off, but it is particularly special to know that this route will make such a difference to people based in the North East.
“London City is a fantastic new service to add to our list of destinations, and we expect that it will particularity popular with busy business commuters heading down to the capital.
“We expect this service to deliver an increase of tourist traffic to and from the region.”
North East-based businesses such as Sage and Ward Hadaway, as well as business organisations including the CBI and the North East England Chamber of Commerce recently said that the service was ‘terrific’ and ‘ambitious’.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council and chair of the airport’s shareholders LA7, also praised the new double-daily route.
He said: “This exciting new service will have a very strong and positive impact for both business commuters and tourists travelling in and out of the North East.
“It will provide a quick and convenient connection right into the heart of London, which I believe will be a very valuable asset to our region.”
Roger Hage, Eastern Airways’ general manager commercial and operations, added: “It is vital that cities like Newcastle, and the North East region as a whole, has strong links with the capital and our new London City service, on behalf of Flybe, offers the most convenient air link to reach the city and central London.
“London City Airport’s location allows for easy, swift access to Canary Wharf and the London underground for both business and leisure travellers.”
Operating at business-focused departure times throughout the week, the first flight of the day departs from Newcastle Airport at 8.05am with passengers arriving in London City at 9.15am.
An additional evening flight departs Newcastle Airport at 5.50pm and arrives at London City at 7pm.
Return flights from London City Airport depart twice a day at 9.45am and 7.30pm. On Sundays, an evening flight operates from Newcastle Airport at 5.50pm.
Flights are available to book at www.flybe.com.