A HOLIDAY giant is introducing the first-ever direct flights between Glasgow and the African city of Marrakesh.

The summer flights will begin next year and with the recent introduction of new routes from the westcoast hub to Cyprus, Turkey and Ibiza, Thomson will be laying on 36,000 return flights.

It is another boost for Glasgow which has seen a steady rise in passenger numbers in recent years and comes just weeks after Scottish aviation history was created when an Emirates A380 - the world's biggest commercial plane -touched down for three hours at the airport.

Thomson Airways and First Choice - both part of Britain's biggest tour operator - are now selling plane tickets ahead of the inaugural flight next summer between Glasgow and Morocco.

The Marrakesh service means the holiday group will serve 32 destinations out of the West of Scotland following on from earlier announcements of new flights to Paphos in Cyprus, Dalaman in Turkey and Ibiza.

Thomson official Karen Switzer said: "Expanding access to our portfolio of destinations and hotels is a key part of our overall strategy and we hope that this move will enhance the holiday experience for our customers."

Glasgow's commercial director Francois Bourienne added: "It will be the first time Marrakesh has been served from Glasgow, which is the largest Thomson and First Choice base in Scotland.

"We look forward to working closely with them to ensure the success of both routes."

Marrakesh is especially popular with visitors from France, where a number of celebrities have snapped up holiday hideaways in the city, which is aiming to to double tourism numbers by attracting 20million visits by the end of the decade.