A new low-cost airline is offering transatlantic flights from Northern Ireland.
The Fly Atlantic announcement has been described as a “game changer” and fills a gap in the market as there are currently no direct flights between Belfast and North America.
Fly Atlantic plans to start flights to Europe and North America from summer 2024.
Once fully operational, the airline plans to serve 35 destinations from Belfast and create 21,000 new jobs by 2030.
That number includes 1,000 jobs created within the airline industry and up to 21,000 in the tourism and support sectors.
The flights will go on sale from 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.
Aircraft bookings are underway with both Boeing and Airbus, with a choice between the Boeing MAX and the Airbus A321.
Andrew Pyne, chief executive of Fly Atlantic, said they preferred Belfast over stiff competition in the UK.
Mr Pyne added: “Our vision is for Belfast to become a strong aviation hub connecting Europe and North America.
“The lack of direct transatlantic air services has clearly been an obstacle to Northern Ireland’s economic and tourism development, which we now aim to remove. The project could bring a turning point.
“We will offer affordable fares with brand new aircraft. We already have offices at the airport and are now expanding infrastructure to support the airline’s launch. We will start recruiting for the team in early 2023.
“We looked at a lot of options in the UK and Ireland.” Belfast International and Vinci stood out for the facilities they provided us and for their enthusiasm and commitment to make this project a reality.
“Northern Ireland has a proud aviation and engineering history and we are delighted to be able to build on that heritage as the airline develops and its support functions.”
Mr Pyne also acknowledged the support of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, adding that it had “been right behind the project from the start”.
The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Stephen Ross, described the airline’s announcement as “fantastic news, not only for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough, but for Northern Ireland as a whole”.
“This is a defining moment for Northern Ireland and the most significant announcement in local aviation in recent history,” he said.
“Due to its location, transport links and ability to offer passengers an unrivaled experience and routes, Belfast International Airport is the ideal hub for Fly Atlantic to build its operations.”
Graham Keddie, Managing Director of Belfast International Airport, also welcomed the announcement.
He said: “We look forward to them bringing this project to a successful conclusion as it will bring very real economic benefits to the Northern Ireland economy and further improve our international connectivity.”
Visit www.flyatlantic.com for more information
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Source: Bel Fast Live