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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
MPs given assurances over flights
Flybe aircraft
Flybe's service was described as important to the Highland economy
An airline chief has met MPs who expressed worries about the reliability of its service between Inverness Airport and London Gatwick.

Lib Dem MPs Danny Alexander and John Thurso said they received assurances from Flybe chairman Jim French that improvements would be made to flights.

They said they were reacting to complaints from constituents.

Flybe said it was strongly committed to the Highlands and its chairman had found the meeting "extremely useful".

Last month, a commuter contacted the BBC Scotland news website about disruption caused by cancellations.

At the time, Flybe said it would be putting new aircraft and specialist staff on its service.

It said flights had suffered what it called a "unique set of technical issues" that affected two of its planes.

The Inverness-Gatwick service is critically important to the Highland economy
John Thurso MP

Following the meeting in Westminster, Mr Thurso, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland, and Easter Ross, said he was impressed that Mr French had "made no attempt to conceal the extent of the problems".

He added: "Not only does the airline understand the problem, it is taking major steps to put matters right.

"Already they have located a back-up aircraft at Inverness and other changes to improve service will be made over the summer.

"The Inverness-Gatwick service is critically important to the Highland economy. I am in no doubt that Flybe understand the importance of the service and are working hard to put matters right."

Mr Alexander, Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said he was reassured the airline was working hard on the connections.

He said: "Flybe has shown a real commitment to Inverness, not least through their sponsorship of Inverness Caledonian Thistle. They see the city as a long-term base, which is why they want to put matters right."

Flybe said its punctuality figures for the month were "very strong" and claimed there had been no cancellations in the past 36 days.

In a statement, it said: "Flybe understands the importance of the Inverness-Gatwick service and we will continue to do our utmost to deliver a reliable service with better punctuality and are looking at bringing greater customer choice to the Highland's community."

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