A decision by United Airlines to return to a full year-round service to New York from Belfast has been welcomed as a boost to the Northern Ireland economy.
The carrier suspended the route from Belfast international airport to Newark for more than two months in January.
The direct transatlantic service has been operating for more than 10 years and is now to continue on a year-round basis with three flghts a week.
Belfast international airport managing director, Graham Keddie, said: “United’s commitment is both welcome and substantial. This is wonderful news.
“We have been working with stakeholders to achieve this outcome and we are delighted it is now being delivered.
“The decision by United to return to full year-round service is of great significance to the Northern Ireland economy.
“Our one and only direct, scheduled transatlantic service to Newark Liberty is a ‘lifeline’ for US-owned firms and adds massively to efforts by Invest NI to attract additional and highly prized US investment.
“United are to be applauded, and we will do all we can to promote and market the service.”
He added: “We were naturally disappointed last year when the service didn’t operate for a nine-week period from January to March, but today’s positive development should give us all great heart and confidence in the future.
“United have a wonderful product that is clearly very popular. There are challenges, however, one of which is how to encourage more business passengers to use the main local airport for the transatlantic trip rather than go elsewhere.
“Clearly, United looked at the market and saw sufficient justification for a year-round service which is a further statement of confidence in Northern Ireland. Now, it’s up to all of us to make it even more successful.”
United’s UK and Ireland managing director, sales, Bob Schumacher, said: “We’re pleased to offer our Northern Irish customers a year-round direct link to New York.
“New York remains a popular destination for travellers and our Newark Liberty hub provides the most convenient route into the city as well as easy connections to hundreds of other destinations across the US and beyond.
“With this schedule change, we are offering our customers even more choice.”
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