North East businesses given free flights for a year in effort to grow

easyJet and NECC deal will see firms showcasing products in London, while Thomson also launches new Verona route

Mark Savage Photography easyJet crew with Newcastle Airport's Richard Knight, Sam Wass of Great British Meat Co, Mark Stephenson of EventSneaker and Jonathan Wardale from LoveFood
easyJet crew with Newcastle Airport's Richard Knight, Sam Wass of Great British Meat Co, Mark Stephenson of EventSneaker and Jonathan Wardale from LoveFood

A trio of entrepreneurs are being given free flights to London for a year in an effort to help them grow their North East businesses.

Newcastle-based catering company Love Food, Gateshead online butchers the Great British Meat Company, and Teesside digital marketing firm EventSneaker can fly to Gatwick with easyJet after it launched its Tyneside link to the capital on Sunday.

And in a busy week for Newcastle International airport Thomson has announced it is to launch a new weekly service to the Italian city of Verona.

The easyJet deal comes after the airline partnered with the North East Chamber of Commerce to help support the three firm’s expansion plans.

“Improving connectivity and access to international gateways is vital for North East business and the continued economic growth of our region,” said North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, James Ramsbotham.

“It is fantastic to see easyJet recognising the potential for a route to the capital and helping some of our exciting new businesses make use of the service.”

easyJet expects to carry around 105,000 passengers on its new twice daily London flights each year, with the firm’s UK commercial manager Ali Gayward saying she hoped the service would “help businesses and inward investment continue to thrive.”

While the chief executive of Newcastle International Airport, Dave Laws, said he expected the route to be a hit with both businesses and holidaymakers.

We expect significant numbers of business and leisure passengers to fly with easyJet as London Gatwick is a great airport with direct train and road connections to London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex,” he said.

“The flights will also provide access to the 100 destinations easyJet serve directly from London Gatwick.”

Holidaymakers from the North East are also being given more choice through the launch of a new direct flight to Verona.

Thomson Lakes & Mountains is introducing a new Saturday service from Newcastle Airport, with small Italian owned airline Livingston Air chartering passengers to within striking distance of some of the country’s most famous resorts.

“Many of Italy’s most famous and valued resorts can be easily accessed from Verona including Garda, Bardolino, Sirmione, Riva on Lake Garda, just to name a few,” a spokesman for the airline said.

“Or If you prefer to walk and enjoy the Italian mountains, you can head to Selva Val Gardena.”

Thomson’s inaugural service takes off on Saturday May 17.

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