The boss of George Best Belfast City airport has voiced strong support for a third runway at Heathrow.
The backing for Heathrow expansion came in a letter from the Belfast airport’s chief executive Brian Ambrose to aviation minister Robert Goodwill, highlighting the importance of mid to long-haul connectivity for passengers in Northern Ireland.
Belfast City is among 38 airports throughout the UK, including Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Liverpool and Newcastle, to openly pledge support for expansion of Heathrow.
Ambrose said: “An expansion at Heathrow airport would bring huge benefits to Northern Ireland’s business and leisure sectors.
“Last year, 132,000 passengers transferred through Heathrow from Belfast and we believe that this number would only increase with expansion at Heathrow, which is set to create 40 additional long haul routes.
“Heathrow already serves 75 destinations which aren’t operated from any other UK airport and in order to continue growth within the local economy, maintaining this connectivity, particularly with international markets such as China, is key.
“The expansion would also serve to make Northern Ireland accessible to an increasing number of business and leisure passengers across the world, which would build further on the growth the region has already experienced to date.”
He added: “We are adding our voice to an already extensive list of UK airports in support of the expansion and hope that the Department for Transport reaches a conclusion that will benefit, not just the people of Northern Ireland, but regional airports across the UK.”
Belfast City remains the only airport in Northern Ireland to serve the Heathrow route which is operated up to ten times a day by both Aer Lingus and British Airways.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “I am very grateful for the support businesses in Northern Ireland have given us in our fight for Heathrow expansion. Even when it was unfashionable to say “we back Heathrow”, they were saying it. It was Northern Irish businesses and MPs that made their voices heard.
“And now I’m delighted to have the support of Belfast City airport who are making our case in Whitehall, perhaps more passionately and more succinctly than I ever could.”
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