New support scheme to boost air connectivity with Britain this summer

Economy Minister Diane Dodds (centre) at Belfast City Airport with airport boss Brian Ambrose and commercial director Katy Best.
Ryan McAleer

A NEW support scheme for airlines is to open this summer to boost air connectivity between the north and Britain.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said the Northern Ireland economic recovery needs air connectivity to return to its pre-Covid levels as soon as possible.

She said aviation consultants had already been appointed to develop the Northern Ireland Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme (NIDAKS).

The announcement came as Stobart Air confirmed it will add an eighth former Flybe route to the Aer Lingus Regional hub it operates at Belfast City Airport

Flights to Cardiff will begin from June 28, running four times weekly.

It comes two weeks after Stobart Air announced plans to commence flights between Belfast City Airport and Newquay at the end of June.

Stobart currently have five 72-seater ATR72-600 aircraft permanently based at the airport, which serve Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford and Exeter.

The Cardiff service will go head-to-head with Eastern Airways, which announced its plan to restore the air link between Northern Ireland and Wales last year. Eastern is due to commence flights between Belfast City Airport and Cardiff at the end of May.

Speaking at the airport on Wednesday, Diane Dodds said: “NIDAKS' aim is to support inbound tourism and business travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and to encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the local economy. These are essential for recovery.”

The Economy Minsiter also said that she wants to see the return of safe international travel as soon as possible.”

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