The first ever flights from Gatwick to Moscow have been launched by Easyjet. The move gives the region's travel industry a vital boost after thousands of job losses in recent times.
Easyjet who are now the biggest airline at Gatwick won the right to operate the route, over Virgin Atlantic. Businesses from Kent, Sussex and the Thames Valley joined the maiden flight in an attempt to boost trade with Russia. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports from Moscow.
The interviewees are Carolyn McCall, Easyjet Chief Executive; Kendal Evans, Cabin Crew from Crawley. Maria Pasholok, a passenger from Oxford; and Ray Johnson, Chairman, Kent Chamber of Commerce.
Along with the first passengers flying to Moscow for a city break, there are also representatives from a dozen companies onboard who are taking part in a trade mission to the Russian capital.
easyJet Chief Executive, Carolyn McCall, a graduate of Kent University in Canterbury, told ITV News why the route is important to her company and to the UK balance sheet.
This is a historic day for easyJet, not only are we launching flights between London Gatwick and Moscow but it is also the first day our shares are traded on the FTSE 100. Russia is the world’s largest country with a growing economy. Offering frequent and affordable flights enables easyJet to play a key role to aid trade links between the two countries.
I am pleased to have around a dozen UK companies travelling with us today aiming to start to build relationships in Russia. These companies are spread across Britain and represent many sectors including food, technology and manufacturing.
The new London Gatwick to Moscow service is easyJet's 100th route from the airport in West Sussex. The expansion into Russia is possible after the airline successfully bid for routes that came available when BMI was bought by BA's parent company.
Under a bilateral agreement between the UK and Russia only two airlines from each country between the two capitals. easyJet beat Virgin Atlantic Airways in getting permission to fly the route.
This is the first time Moscow has been served from London Gatwick airport with the airline expecting to fly more than a quarter of a million passengers between London Gatwick and Moscow annually.