THE SNP’s Westminster leader has described as “gut-wrenching” the news that a private jet flew from Inverness to Moscow on Saturday.

Ian Blackford said it was “not acceptable” to see a Highland airfield being used to reach Moscow in the current climate, and called for a blanket ban.

The SNP MP wrote on Twitter: “To see a private jet leaving Inverness for Moscow is gut-wrenching.

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"We need to ban all flights to Moscow unless authorised for humanitarian reasons. To see a Highland airfield being used for people, money or goods to reach Moscow is not acceptable.”

The flight was operated by Panaviatic, a firm which offers private jet charters. It was a Learjet 60 flying under the number VPC1.

The National: Map detail from FlightRadar24 showing the path taken by the private charter flightMap detail from FlightRadar24 showing the path taken by the private charter flight

Blackford said he had asked Highlands and Islands Airports (Hial) “for an explanation and what they were aware of”. “This aircraft would have lodged a flight plan,” he added.

The MP later shared guidance he said Hial had been given by the UK Government which makes clear that all flights “owned, chartered or operated … by, or a person connected to Russia” had been banned as part of the sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

However, the VPC1 plane is registered in Estonia, which Blackford said represented a loophole that needed to be closed.

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“I will be raising this tomorrow in parliament. [Transport Secretary] @grantshapps needs to tighten the restrictions,” he wrote.

“We cannot have loopholes that allow flights with a final destination of Moscow.”

Blackford added that it was “not acceptable” that the UK Government had not informed Hial of the new regulations until almost 24 hours after they came into effect.

A spokesperson for the UK Transport Department said they were aware of the flight and would come back with comment.