Flights of fancy as Belfast International Airport unveils host of new routes
New flights to Poland, Italy and Czech Republic take off this week from Belfast International Airport - with the return of an old operator and expansion by an existing airline.
Airline Jet2.com tomorrow launches a new route to Rome, while Friday sees the starts of its new air link with Prague.
The airline, which started operating in Northern Ireland 21 years ago, will also start connections with Gran Canaria, Verona in Italy and Greek island Zante later this year.
Jet2.com said it was now offering 18 holiday hotspots from Belfast.
The new Rome flights will depart twice weekly until November 1, while up to three flights to the Czech Republic capital will operate until January 2016.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: "I'm sure they'll be very popular with local holidaymakers and it's great to see that both of our inaugural flights are almost sold out."
Graham Keddie, managing director at Belfast International Airport, added: "This is a very significant week for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays and also for Belfast International Airport, with the launch of Rome and Prague as new destinations representing up to five additional departures from the airport every week.
"It is wonderful to see how Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have expanded over the years."
Meanwhile, the first flight from low-cost airline Wizz Air has taken off from the International Airport. The Hungarian airline has launched a new twice-weekly route to Katowice in Poland. Wizz Air's Daniel de Carvalho said with a "substantial Polish community living in Northern Ireland... there has been considerable interest in our new route".
"At the other end, Katowice is a major business and industrial centre with a population of 2.7m people, which means there's ample scope to develop tourism."
The airline also starts a flight between Belfast International and Vilnius in Lithuania later this month. Wizz Air previously operated here in the mid-2000s before pulling out in 2008.
And easyJet - the main operator at Belfast International - has said it is increasing seats for sale on Gatwick, London Luton and Stansted by more than 125,000 to over 500,000 up to the end of February, 2016. It has also said it would link Belfast International with Heathrow in the event of the latter's expansion.
Ali Gayward, easyJet's head of Ireland, said: "We remain committed to our network from Belfast and have recently added increased frequencies between Liverpool and Belfast and services to Split (Croatia) commence from June."