Air services take off again to Manchester and Birmingham

Announcing the new links from Belfast City to Manchester and Birmingham are Stobart Air managing director Andy Jolly and East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson. Picture: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye
Gary McDonald Business Editor

LINKS from Belfast to key British air hubs in Birmingham and Manchester, grounded by the collapse of Flybe in March, will begin again today.

The twice-daily flights from the City Airport are being operated by Stobart Air on behalf of Aer Lingus's regional service, which has already picked up the void on routes to Edinburgh and Exeter.

The operator says frequency will increase to three times a day from mid-October, connecting business, student and leisure travellers - including football fans - with the West Midlands area and north west of England.

George Best Belfast City Airport commercial director Katy Best said: “As hub airports, Birmingham and Manchester have always been popular routes, and it's great to have this connectivity secured again.

“These are the third and fourth in a series of six new route launches with Aer Lingus Regional and we look forward to working with the airline to ensure the success of these routes and bolstering regional connectivity from Northern Ireland.”

It is understood Aer Lingus Regional will also commence flights to East Midlands and Leeds Bradford from October 1, meaning more than half of the old Flybe routes will be restored.

Stobart Air managing director Andy Jolly said: “We're thrilled to launch the inaugural Aer Lingus Regional flights to Birmingham and Manchester from our base at Belfast City.

“We've worked hard over the past number of weeks and months to protect our airline during these challenging times and to position us for the future. The launch of these services from Belfast is part of that hard work.”

The launch has been welcome by East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson, who said: “The past six months have been an incredibly difficult time for the airline sector, and these new routes will restore options for all travellers and inject much needed confidence within the industry.”

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