THOMAS Cook Airlines’ inaugural flight from Gatwick Airport to Barbados departed to a Bajan carnival event on Saturday afternoon.

The weekly flight from Gatwick joins three-times weekly flights to Barbados from Manchester.

In partnership with Visit Barbados and Gatwick Airport, the 314 lucky customers on the inaugural were swept up in the Bajan spirit at check-in with a steel band and carnival dancers in traditional Bajan dress.

At the gate, the band and dancers continued to entertain as rum punch cocktails and cake was served and customers were given a beach bag gift to take on their holiday.

Captain Maurice Flemmings was also celebrating, as the flight would be his last before retirement.

Christoph Debus, chief airlines officer, Thomas Cook Group Airlines, said, “It’s fantastic that we were able to mark the occasion with a lively event for customers at Gatwick Airport.

“We’re looking forward to a successful winter programme to Barbados from both Gatwick and Manchester and are thrilled to be adding to our growing winter Caribbean programme across the group.”

Sharon Confue, head of sales UK, Thomas Cook Airlines said, “We have a long and established relationship with Barbados and the BTMI and I am delighted that we can now offer this fantastic and beautiful destination to our customers throughout the UK, with the addition of Gatwick to our Manchester programme.”

Stephen King, head of airline relations, said it’s more good news for Gatwick.

He said: “We are delighted to help launch Thomas Cook Airlines’ new Gatwick flight to Barbados, an idyllic Caribbean island that always proves popular with UK travellers.

“Barbados has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and clear blue seas and visitors have a wealth of activities to enjoy, from water sports and golf to the island’s rainforest and wildlife.

“This is another boost to Gatwick’s 60 strong long haul network.”