The first-ever direct air route linking Edinburgh to Washington DC will open up from next summer, providing a key link for business travellers.

Flights will operate between the two capital cities helping to strengthen economic and cultural ties between Scotland and the United States.

United Airlines will operate the service to Washington Dulles from 23rd of May 2018, offering daily flights from capital to capital, opening Scotland to a new market.

United will continue to operate their year-round flights to New York Newark as well as extending their summer service to Chicago.

Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport Gordon Dewar said: “This is fantastic news for Edinburgh Airport and Scotland as we connect our two capital cities for the first time.

“As Scotland’s busiest airport, we are a leader for international destinations and this demonstrates the confidence of US carriers in the Edinburgh market, standing ahead of other parts of the UK with such strong inbound tourism demand.

“Our partners at United have seen first-hand the positive impact of flights from Edinburgh to New York Newark and Chicago, and we are keen to replicate that to Washington for both a business and tourist audience.

“The Scottish economy will also benefit as we open up Edinburgh to a new market and as international passengers continue to soar, we will see a positive contribution to the local and national economy.”

Minister for Transport Humza Yousaf said:“This new service between Edinburgh and Washington DC will help to strengthen the important economic and cultural links between Scotland and the United States.

“The launch of a direct route into America’s capital city is great news for Scottish businesses, giving them better access to important US markets through United’s hub operation. It will also help support our tourism industry by making it even easier for visitors to get a taste of the fantastic experiences Edinburgh, and Scotland as a whole, have to offer.

“I warmly welcome this announcement and wish Edinburgh Airport and United Airlines every success with this new route. I have no doubt it will prove popular with travellers on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The announcement follows news that Edinburgh Airport saw its busiest ever August, with more than 1.4m passing through the hub.

It was the busiest August on record for the airport and the second busiest month ever as 1,403,797 passed through. July 2017 the busiest month ever with 1,413,272 passengers.

Visitors from across the world and the rest of the UK flew in to experience the capital’s world famous festivals, with international visitors up 11.4% on the same month last year.