An airport boss has pledged to fight to bring Gatwick flights back to Aberdeen.
Steve Szalay, managing director of Aberdeen International Airport, also hopes to secure new routes for holidaymakers keen to book a getaway in the winter sun.
Mr Szalay is keen to see airlines flying to destinations such as Budapest, Warsaw and Vilnius from the city.
However, he stressed that his top priority was to attract direct flights to Gatwick and Frankfurt to make it easier for business passengers and also holidaymakers travelling to London and further afield.
Lufthansa axed its flights from Aberdeen to the German city in January last year.
And EasyJet pulled flights between Aberdeen and Gatwick in February, citing a “reduction in demand” for the decision.
A petition calling for the reinstatement of the route has now passed the 2,000 mark – and the issue has been raised in the UK Parliament.
Mr Szalay said Air Passenger Duty (APD), a levy brought in to pay for the environmental costs of air travel in 1994, discouraged some airlines from opening up new routes from the city. It is currently cheaper for airlines to fly from Inverness because the Highland airport holds a tax exemption.
Flight operators are offering tickets to passengers travelling to Luton from Inverness Airport this week 37% cheaper than flights departing from Aberdeen.
Mr Szalay is now in discussions with airlines and hopes to boost the number of flights from the city.
He said: “My two main priorities are Frankfurt and Gatwick.”
He added: “APD just doesn’t help us right now.
“The way funding works at Inverness distorts the market and is bad for Aberdeen.
“There are three flights from Inverness to Gatwick a day and none from Aberdeen.
“I don’t blame the airline, it is cheaper to fly from Inverness, they follow the money.
“I would like to see it be a level playing field and an incentive for someone to pick the route up.”
The managing director, who has now been in the post for six months, said discussions were under way with operators to secure flights to the two cities.
And he said the German route would also prove popular with business travellers heading to exhibitions and conferences when the new P&J Live arena opens later in the year.
He added: “We have P&J Live coming in and there is a lot of business travel for those hub connections for global conferences. It is an absolute travesty we won’t have Frankfurt and we are working all the time to get those flights back.”
Mr Szalay said it was currently a challenge for UK airports working on new routes with European airlines due to the uncertainties over Brexit.
But he said there was huge potential for the airport with plans for cruise ships to start docking in the city at the new £350 million harbour.
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He said: “The airlines are reluctant to take a punt right now, which means we won’t see a resurgence in winter 2019.
“I would love to have Warsaw, Budapest and, with a large Lithuanian community, I’d love to have Vilnius.
“With Wizz Air they are doing really well in Europe and concentrating business there, so they don’t need to worry about Britain until Brexit is sorted.”
Mr Szalay added that he was also looking to get more destinations secured for passengers chasing the winter sun.
He said: “In winter we had a TUI plane to Tenerife and Ryanair flight to Alicante and they were the only two winter flights.
“There has to be more, a Malaga flight and maybe another flight to Lanzarote. There should be plenty of winter sun flights to the Canary Islands and possibly even Turkey.”