Scotland’s only direct flight to the Caribbean began this week as Virgin Atlantic set off for Barbados from Edinburgh Airport.

A launch event for the new service was held on Wednesday as flight VS223 departed from the capital to the island on 8 December. The twice weekly service is being operated on an Airbus A330 with three classes available, The service will operate on Sundays and Wednesdays.

It’s the first time Virgin Atlantic has flown international flights from the Scottish capital in its 37-year history. The airline will also commence flights from Edinburgh to Orlando in March 2022.

The new service aims to capture the pent-up demand to visit and reconnect with family and loved ones as well as travellers looking to explore the idyllic island, with onward connections to the wider Caribbean such as Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago.

The service will also offer an efficient cargo service to strengthen the global supply chain and presenting new opportunities for companies looking to export and import Scottish products between Scotland and the Caribbean.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport said: “Welcoming Virgin Atlantic to its new home in Scotland is hugely exciting and I know seeing that famous Virgin tailfin at Edinburgh Airport is something that has created a buzz across the campus and with our passengers.

“There’s pent up demand for safe and sustainable travel and by offering Scotland’s only direct route to the Caribbean we are looking to make it as easy as possible for people to get away on that well-earned break or holiday of a lifetime.”

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “Commencing international flights from Edinburgh marks an exciting new chapter for Virgin Atlantic and we couldn’t be happier to be flying from a new home in Scotland. I know our teams have been itching to show Edinburgh the Virgin Atlantic spirit and flair we’re famous for.

“Our new route to the idyllic island of Barbados offers the quintessential Caribbean getaway and a perfect escape for those travellers looking to either simply relax or explore a new corner of the world.”

Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey said: “The launch of this new route between Edinburgh and Barbados is an important milestone for the aviation industry in Scotland and great show of confidence in the market.

“The sector has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, so it’s very encouraging to see the shoots of recovery with this new service and the return of the route to Orlando next year.

“I wish Edinburgh Airport and Virgin Atlantic every success with this new route.”

Piper Conner Pratt at the launch of the first flight from Edinburgh to Barbados ALL PHOTOS Ian Georgeson