Business leaders gathered at Cornwall Airport Newquay this morning for the launch of the new air link with London Heathrow.

As part of the new Cornwall Council led Public Service Obligation (PSO), funded by Government, the new service between Newquay and London Heathrow operates four times a day, replacing the previous triple-daily service between Newquay and London Gatwick.

The flights are operated by Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, and builds on the previous route offered by Flybe between Newquay and London Gatwick which has seen demand almost double over the past four years.

Q400 turboprop aircraft are used to deliver the more frequent service as well as reduce the environmental impact.

The new route and frequency of flights have been secured for four years under the PSO agreement.

The service to London Heathrow, the world’s second busiest airport for international travel, will help businesses in Cornwall to compete nationally and internationally, attracting inward investment and boosting tourism.

It will also provide much-improved access to Central London via the 16-minute Heathrow Express service to Paddington, Piccadilly Line and eventually the new Crossrail service.

Flights to London now account for 40% of all passengers using Cornwall Airport Newquay.

Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, said: “The new route from Cornwall to our national hub airport offers significant opportunities for local businesses and people, and will help boost tourism across the south west.

“It’s great to see this new route launched with help from the Government, as we work to build a better-connected UK.”

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, Geoff Brown, said: “Passengers across Cornwall and the south west will enjoy more daily return flights to the capital than ever before, flying directly into Heathrow. The Public Service Obligation, negotiated by Cornwall Council and supported by the Government, will provide passengers with hundreds of links to global destinations opening up new travel and business opportunities.”

Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Regional air links are vital to rebalancing the UK economy and supporting our emerging industries in Cornwall like space, clean energy and creative tech. Four flights a day into Heathrow will help our ambitious businesses trade around the world, and attract more domestic and overseas visitors to one of the best parts of the UK.”

Mel Colton Dyer, chief operating officer at the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce said: “The new service offers a fantastic opportunity to connect Cornwall’s businesses to new markets across Europe and beyond and makes Cornwall truly a global county.”

Cornwall Airport Newquay’s managing director, Al Titterington, added: “It’s fantastic that all the hard work to make sure that Cornwall Airport Newquay has direct access to Europe’s busiest hub has finally come to fruition. The worldwide connectivity that this brings opens up a world of opportunity for Cornwall.

“Now we have direct flights to Heathrow, we will see the strength of Newquay and Cornwall’s brand abroad grow even further, helping to attract more valuable international tourism to our beautiful county.”