New £4.5m incentive scheme for airlines to retain routes to Britain

Belfast International Airport boss Graham Keddie with Graham Keddie.

A NEW £4.5 million Stormont grant scheme has been launched to support flights between Britain and the north’s three main airports over the next four months.

Economy Minister Paul Frew said the NI Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme (NIDAKS) will have three elements: Maintaining a minimum route frequency on a number of core routes; incentivising enhanced frequency; and encouraging new routes.

It will be administered by Invest NI, with a cut-off point of October 31 2021.

The north’s biggest airport, Belfast International, was operating at just 33 per cent pre-pandemic levels during May 2021.

Managing director Graham Keddie said NIDAKS “will provide much needed support to our airlines that have been devastated by the impact of Covid”.

He said the airport had spent months working with the Department for the Economy to development scheme.

“We know it will have a positive impact in rebuilding our airlines and connectivity to the rest of the world,” he said.

“This announcement demonstrates the value of having a local Executive in place that listens to and engages with the business community.”

City of Derry Airport boss Steve Frazer said the scheme will provide a further catalyst for economic recovery, while Belfast City Airport’s chief executive, Brian Ambrose said the announcement provides much needed assistance to airlines in establishing and maintaining key routes.

Economy Minsiter Paul Frew said: “This improved connectivity will stimulate inbound tourism, as well as both inward and outward business travel. In turn we hope to see a positive impact on local hotels, restaurants and other hospitality and tourism businesses, as the sector here continues to get back on its feet.

“Furthermore, enhancing our links with Great Britain can only help make Northern Ireland even more attractive as a place to invest.”

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