Belfast International Airport has said that Ryanair’s new network unveiled today will have a hugely positive impact on Northern Ireland tourism and jobs.
The airport’s Managing Director, Graham Keddie, says the inclusion of Berlin and Milan represents a long-awaited breakthrough into the lucrative German and Italian markets, and is a cause for major celebration in Northern Ireland.
Mr Keddie said: “When Ryanair announced its decision in January to open a new Northern Ireland base at the International Airport, we’d been told to expect five new routes in addition to Gatwick.
“Today, five routes have become seven with Berlin and Milan topping the list. To say we’re delighted with this expansion would be an under-statement. For us, the inclusion of Berlin fulfils a major ambition, and is the long-awaited breakthrough we have worked to achieve.
“This new network comes at no cost to the taxpayer or support from Government. It will provide direct access to Northern Ireland, drive up tourism numbers, increase Northern Ireland’s international appeal and lead to many hundreds of new jobs.
“These new jobs will be at the airport and the ever-increasing supply chain. Already, we’ve announced close to 300 new jobs which will generate £4.8 million in wages, but that’s just the beginning of an amazing period of growth and expansion that will be the inevitable consequence of this most welcome announcement.
“Belfast International has just recorded a February growth rate of 20% over the same month last year. Our existing airlines are adding capacity which is wonderful news for the passenger. It has to be remembered that the February figure was achieved without the positive impact of Ryanair so, clearly, we’re heading in the right direction for an impressive year of passenger growth.
“This sector is being transformed for the better. Seven new international routes are a wonderful vote of confidence by Ryanair. We have a glimpse of what is possible and we’re determined, with or without Government support, to lead an aggressive route expansion that will deliver greater choice and, crucially, new opportunities for in-bound tourism."