Airport works to restore direct Toronto link
Published: 01 February 2012
Belfast International Airport has said that Northern Ireland tourism is losing out because it no longer has direct air links with Canada.
BIA Business Development Director, Uel Hoey, told a major Ireland-Canada conference that when the Belfast-Toronto link was in operation, tens of thousands of Canadian tourists flooded into the Province.
Strong family and cultural links with Canada, and Ontario in particular, formed the bedrock of the service but the link has become dormant in the last two years with the demise of two airlines. Efforts continue to secure another carrier to take over the Belfast route.
Mr Hoey said: “Nowadays, 4 million Canadians claim Irish ancestry – 2.5 million of them from the Province of Ulster.
“Services once offered into Belfast have inadvertently shifted to Dublin with the result that we are failing as a region to maximise the economic impact of access into the heart of our market.
“We have secured concessions on Air Passenger Duty (APD) to help us compete and lessen the strain on airlines, critically safeguarding our vital New York link, but the next step has got to be to re-double our efforts to attract a new transatlantic carrier serving Toronto.
“In-bound tourism is such a vital element of the local administration’s economic strategy, but it will fall short if we cannot secure direct service from international source markets rich in potential directly into Belfast International Airport.
“We’re working with Ministers to re-connect with Canada and our fervent aim is to rectify the present totally unsatisfactory position, as quickly as possible.
“To this end, dialogue continues with a range of international airlines to promote Northern Ireland as a fascinating tourist destination where there is real business to be done”.
Pictured left to right are Uel Hoey, (Business Development Director, BIA) sharing the platform with Paul Loftus, President, Montreal Chapter, Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce and Loyola Hearn, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, at the Laurentic Conference promoting engagement with our Canadian diaspora, held in Buncrana, Co Donegal.