A major upgrade of the departure lounge at George Best Belfast City airport is planned as part of a £15m infrastructure investment.

The airport’s central security area and hold baggage screening facilities will also be revamped.

The completed work will be contained within the current terminal building and is due to be completed by October.

A 30% increase in retail space is planned, with an expanded offering from World Duty Free and WH Smith.

Food and drink facilities will be expanded by 25%, with a wider choice being introduced along with partner HMS Host, which operates existing facilities including the Bushmills Bar.

Seating for passengers will be more than doubled, as will airside washroom facilities, which will also be fully refurbished.

Airport chief executive, Brian Ambrose, said: “The upgrading of our departure lounge and retail offering will provide greater choice and significantly enhance the experience for our core business and leisure passengers as they travel through the airport.

“The strategic designs help future-proof the airport and we look forward to continuing what has been a successful period across many areas of our business.”

Tourism Ireland chief executive, Niall Gibbons, said:  “This investment is excellent news for Belfast and for tourism to Northern Ireland.

“As an island, direct, convenient and competitive air access is critical to delivering growth in inbound tourism and any improvement in the experience of our overseas visitors, including travelling through our airports, is very much welcomed.

“Tourism Ireland is committed to working with all of our airports and airline partners to maximise opportunities for new and existing flights, helping to deliver further growth in overseas visitor numbers.”

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