Stobart Air, the operator of Aer Lingus Regional routes, is opening a new base at Belfast City airport, with five aircraft operating six routes to England and Scotland.

The services to Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford and Exeter will start on a phased basis from August 27.

The first flights from Belfast City will be to Edinburgh, then services to Exeter will start on August 28.

Flights to Manchester and Birmingham will operate from September 14 and to East Midlands and Leeds Bradford from October 1.

Stobart Air plans to operate more than 200 flights weekly to and from Belfast.

It currently operates 30 Aer Lingus Regional routes from bases in Dublin, Cork and Belfast.

Brian Ambrose, chief executive of Belfast City airport, said: “Despite an extremely challenging environment, we’re delighted that Aer Lingus is to establish a new base and significantly enhance its UK network from Belfast City.

“As an island off an island, air connectivity with the rest of UK is critical to the enabling the Northern Ireland economy’s recovery.”

David Shepherd, chief commercial officer at Aer Lingus, added: “Together with our up-to-three-times-daily service from Belfast City Airport to London, today’s announcement means Aer Lingus/Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Stobart Air, is the largest operator out of Belfast City Airport, ensuring connectivity between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

“In response to current uncertainty regarding air travel, Aer Lingus has introduced a range of measures including no change fees until the end of the year.”

Following guidance from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the airline has several enhanced health and safety measures to protect staff, crew and passengers.

These include enhanced cleaning, mandatory face coverings, and no in-flight service.

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