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30 March 04

The first passengers to arrive at Inverness Airport on the inaugural snowflake flight from Stockholm were greeted with a true taste of the Highlands on Monday 29 March 2004.  Snowflake is SAS Scandinavian Airlines' low cost carrier.

The flight from Arlanda Airport arrived at Inverness just after 10am and was met by bagpiper Calum 'Spud' Fraser, who shot to fame after piping for pop star Madonna when she arrived in Inverness for her wedding at Skibo Castle.

The passengers from Sweden also received a welcome pack containing Walkers Shortbread, Talisman whisky from Tomatin Distillery, Made in Scotland chocolate, a Nessie toy from Loch Ness 2000 and an Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn Local Visitor Guide  Departing passengers to Stockholm were given Swedish chocolates by the airline.

The airline is operating return flights on Mondays and Fridays with one-way fares starting at 46 including taxes and fees.  Flights will be operated with Boeing 737-800 and MD-80 aircraft.

Snowflake is only a year old but it has already gained a reputation for its efficient service both on the ground and in the air.   It is designed to meet the demands of today's leisure travellers and offers good quality at affordable fares.  snowflake has an extensive route network and flies to 23 destinations from Stockholm and Copenhagen.  15 new routes are opening this

Speaking at Inverness Airport, Martin Tiveus, snowflake's director of Marketing and Business Development said: "Inverness is snowflake's first service to the United Kingdom and we are thrilled to be linking these two important cities.  We are a young and premium low-cost airline and look forward to inviting passengers on board for a taste of Scandinavia."

James Walton, Inverness Airport manager said: "We are delighted to see so many passengers from Sweden arriving on the first flight and trust that they will return home having enjoyed the many attractions the Highlands have to offer.  The snowflake service is a significant development for the airport and the region and we believe that it will prove attractive to both leisure and business travellers in Scotland and Sweden."

The service is also benefiting from a major marketing campaign funded by Inverness and Nairn Enterprise, HOST, VisitScotland, The Highland Council, and Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd. In conjunction with snowflake, the marketing drive aims to encourage as many travellers as possible from Scandinavia and Scotland to take advantage of the new flights over the coming months.

Alex Johnson, commercial and marketing manager at Highlands and Islands Airports said: "This is a good day for the region and we are delighted to have been able to work with snowflake to bring this service to Inverness.

"We believe this route will provide a major boost for tourism in the region and fits well with the expanding range of full service and no-frills flight options from Inverness. Support from the Scottish Executive's Route Development Fund is again enabling us to expand the range of services available to travellers in the Highlands," said Mr Johnson.

Stuart Black, chief executive of Inverness and Nairn Enterprise said: "We are delighted snowflake has chosen to fly to Inverness. It is excellent to have an international route to the area and we look forward to the visitors and business it will bring."

Scott Armstrong, head of Marketing, Research & Development at The Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board said: "The Swedish holiday market is an affluent one which offers a lot of potential to the Highlands as there is considerable interest in Sweden in golf, whisky, castles and car touring, all of which are readily available in the Highlands.

"A lot of work has gone into securing the new direct flights between Stockholm and Inverness and further effort is being made by HOST, VisitScotland , The Highland Council. Golf Highland, HIAL and INE to help market this new route in Sweden.

"Easy access to the Highlands is a vital component in being able to attract more International visitors and being able to fly directly into the heart of the Highlands is a major step forward. We are absolutely delighted at the introduction of the new snowflake flights to Inverness and we hope this may signal the start of further direct routes to Inverness from other International destinations," said Mr Armstrong.

Councillor Charlie King, chairman of The Highland Council's Transport, Environmental and Community Services Committee said: "The Highland Council very much welcomes this new flight which will add to the attractiveness of the Highlands as a holiday destination. We wish it every success and hope to see further growth in the future. The new flights will assist the HITRANS strategy of developing Inverness as a regional hub in the air network, and the Council with HITRANS are making journeys easier for air passengers by improving the airport bus connections, including a dedicated link with the snowflake flights."

MP David Stewart, who represents Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, said he hoped snowflake's service would bring a flurry of visitors to the Highlands and help inward investment.

"This is an excellent development of international flights and I have high hopes the service will be well used by both communities in Sweden and in the Highlands. I wish the company all the best for the future," he said.

Simon Cole-Hamilton, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce said: "Having recently had to fly via London to get to Sweden, it is great news to see the launch of this new service.  It will open up the Highlands to a large Scandinavian market who are very keen to the golf and outdoor pursuits we have to offer.  I have no doubt, too, that it will generate new traffic from the Highlands, and opens up new opportunities to us for holidays and business."

For the cheapest fares book online at www.flysnowflake.com or contact snowflake's booking centre on  +45 7766 1005.

SAS announces fantastic 99 spring leisure fare

SAS Scandinavian Airlines, the leading carrier to Scandinavia, has commenced a new six times a week service (excluding Saturdays) from Edinburgh to Stockholm Arlanda Airport.  The inaugural plane arrived yesterday from Stockholm with Scandinavian Airlines Sweden President Anders Ehrling on board.

'Frida' and 'Agnetha' from ABBADEUX, a local tribute band, also flew the flag for Sweden in welcoming the new service at Edinburgh Airport.

The new flight is the only direct service from Edinburgh to Stockholm.  It has a Business and Economy class cabin and is being operated by Boeing 737-600 aircraft, on Monday to Fridays, seating 110 people, and an MD80 on Sundays, seating 141.  The flying time is two hours and five minutes.

SAS General Manager UK and Ireland Lars-Ove Filipson said: "We are thrilled to be in Edinburgh and to be linking these two great cities.  Stockholm and Edinburgh enjoy many synergies; they are both beautiful cities rich in history and culture as well as being vibrant business centres.  We look forward to inviting business and leisure travellers on board to enjoy the first class Scandinavian service for which we are famous."

Speaking at the launch Scottish Executive Minister for Parliament Patricia Ferguson said: "This new route is good news for Scotland - the opportunity to fly direct between Edinburgh and Stockholm is a welcome development for both business and leisure travellers.  The Executive is keen to build on the strong social, cultural and economic links between Scotland and Sweden.  This new route will give many people the opportunity to explore what our countries have to offer each other and I congratulate SAS on the launch of this new link."

Richard Jeffrey Managing Director of Edinburgh Airport said: "Scandinavia provides great potential for business and leisure air travel.  We're determined to make sure that we capture a good share of this exciting market, so I'm delighted to welcome Scandinavian Airlines to Edinburgh.  The fact that this is the only airline to offer a direct service from Edinburgh to Stockholm and that it is a daily service, are two great advantages for Scottish travellers and we will be working hard to help make this new service from here a great success."

As well as taking advantage of the only direct service from Edinburgh to Stockholm, travellers wanting to take a spring break to Sweden's spectacular capital city can take up SAS' special 99* return fare (including tax) offer available from 7 April only online at www.scandinavian.net.

Route Flight Departure Arrival  Days
Edinburgh - Stockholm SK 2542 1140hrs 1445hrs Daily except Sat
Stockholm - Edinburgh SK 2541 0935hrs 1055hrs Daily except Sat

Sweden's capital city, with its spectacular location on 14 islands, is a blend of sparkling beauty and historic charm mixed with a contemporary modern atmosphere.  Perfect for a weekend break, fashionable Stockholm is renowned as one of northern Europe's most stylish and exciting cities.  Don't forget to visit the world's first permanent Ice Gallery, featuring stunning ice sculptures, as well as enjoying a cool drink at its Ice Bar!

Together with SAS' partner airline BMI, SAS has three daily services to Stockholm, two via Copenhagen.

Visit www.scandinavian.net or call SAS Reservations on 0870 60 727 727.