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NI's airports out to land benefits as aviation conference hits town

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland's airports will be hoping to land new routes and airlines next week as 1,200 industry members descend on Belfast for a major conference.

Routes Europe takes place at the Waterfront and will bring together airports and airlines from across the world to discuss new links and opportunities. Some 114 carriers - including British Airways, Ryanair and American Airlines - 270 airports and 36 tourism authorities are due to attend.

It's the first time the event has been hosted here.

Steven Small, brand director of the conference, said: "Northern Ireland is a business and tourism destination on the rise."

Graham Keddie, managing director of Belfast International Airport, said it welcomed "the opportunities that Routes Europe will give us to present our wares and the rich range of iconic attractions which the airport provides direct access to".

"Hosting Routes Europe in Belfast cements both the city's and Northern Ireland's position as a great place to visit and to do business in," he added. Brian Ambrose, chief executive of George Best Belfast City Airport, said: "With record investment in Belfast and the highest ever tourism numbers being reported, Routes Europe's arrival in the city presents us with a fantastic opportunity to showcase this growth and positively change the traditional perception of Northern Ireland.

"We want to build on the region's economic and tourism success story by strategically enhancing George Best Belfast City Airport's UK and European route network.

"There is a real demand in the region for direct connections to key destinations across Europe and it is our aim to continue to meet that demand.

Routes Europe runs from Sunday to Tuesday.

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