Ryanair is to resume flights from Belfast International Airport.
Last year the Irish low-cost airline announced it was pulling out of the airport, citing concerns over air passenger duty (APD).
But it has now announced 12 new routes from the hub next summer, operating 115 flights per week.
The routes include Alicante, Faro, Barcelona Girona, Milan Bergamo and Malaga as well as domestic services to East Midlands, Edinburgh, London Stansted and Manchester.
Ryanair’s Belfast-based fleet will comprise of two aircraft and create 60 aviation jobs at Belfast International as well as a number of indirect roles.
Ryanair’s director of commercial, Jason McGuinness, said: “At a time when other airlines are cutting their schedules and reducing their workforce, we are delighted to announce a new Ryanair base at Belfast International Airport with 12 exciting routes.
“We are delighted to have reached a long-term agreement with Belfast International’s management, which will underpin future Ryanair growth at the airport over the coming years.
“Today’s announcement, particularly our decision to launch close to 80 weekly domestic flights to/from East Midlands, Edinburgh, London Stansted and Manchester, demonstrates that lower aviation taxes and competitive airport charges are the catalyst for long-term traffic growth and increased connectivity.”
Mr McGuinness added that concerns over APD remain.
“To enable additional investment from Ryanair (and other airlines) from next summer onwards, the UK Government must immediately scrap aviation taxes for all flights, otherwise it will put the UK at risk of losing air traffic to competing European countries,” he said.
Belfast International Airport’s chief financial officer, Dan Owens, said: “This is a significant investment, bringing job creation and positive news for our passengers and the region.
“It increases the number of destinations now available from the airport to over 70 domestic and international destinations, offering more choice than ever for travellers.”
Meanwhile, George Best Belfast City Airport has announced new services to Cardiff and Southampton with Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Emerald Airlines.
Michelle Hatfield, Corporate Services Director at Belfast City Airport, said: “As one of the largest airline partners at Belfast City Airport, the addition of more Aer Lingus Regional services is fantastic for both business and leisure passengers wishing to travel to the UK.
“Passengers have been asking for further connections to Cardiff and Southampton and we are thrilled that we have been able to deliver in time for the busy summer period.”
Ciaran Smith, head of commercial at Emerald Airlines said: “We are delighted to commence our Cardiff and Southampton services from Belfast, providing those travelling from Belfast with more choice when planning their holidays.”
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