A new low-cost airline will offer transatlantic flights from Northern Ireland.
Fly Atlantic’s announcement has been described as a “game changer”, filling the gap in the market for the absence of direct flights currently operating between Belfast and North America.
Fly Atlantic plans to start operating flights to Europe and North America from the summer of 2024.
Once fully operational, the airline said it plans to fly to 35 destinations from Belfast and will create 21,000 new jobs by 2030.
That figure includes 1,000 jobs created within the airline and up to 21,000 in the tourism and support sectors.
The flights will begin to go on sale in early 2024.
The airline said it will initially operate six aircraft at Belfast International Airport and plans to grow to a fleet of 18 by 2028.
It is in talks with Boeing and Airbus about aircraft, with the choice being between the Boeing MAX and the Airbus A321.
Fly Atlantic Chief Executive Andrew Pyne said he chose Belfast over stiff competition across the UK.
“Our vision is of Belfast as a strong aviation hub linking Europe and North America. The lack of direct transatlantic air services has clearly been an impediment to Northern Ireland’s economic and tourism development, which we now intend to remove. The project can be a gamechanger.” he said, reports RTE.
Mr Pyne also acknowledged the support he had received from Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, adding that he had been “right behind the project from the start”, reports RTE.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Mayor Stephen Ross described the airline’s announcement as “fantastic news not only for the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough but for Northern Ireland as a whole. This is a key moment for Northern Ireland and is the most significant local aviation announcement in recent history. Belfast International Airport is the ideal hub for Fly Atlantic to base its operations due to its location, drive, and ability to offer unparalleled experience and routes for passengers,” reports RTE.
Graham Keddie, Managing Director of Belfast International Airport, also welcomed the announcement.
“We look forward to them bringing this project to fruition as it would have very real economic benefits for Northern Ireland’s economy and would further enhance our international connectivity,” he said, reports RTE.
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