Number of people using NI airports climbs by 9%
Air passenger numbers in Northern Ireland are on the up this year, figures have shown.
Passenger totals are at their highest since before the world-wide recession, with 7.68 million people using airports here in the 12 months to June this year.
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said the statistics showed the province was flying back into the air travel market.
He confirmed he had set up a special taskforce to come up with recommendations on how Northern Ireland's air connectivity can be improved.
The DUP Minister also said a new service from Belfast City Airport to Iceland could help re-open links to North America.
In an Assembly written answer, he explained that the latest air passenger statistics showed a "9% increase in passengers on the previous year, and passenger numbers are at their highest since the pre-recession peak of 8.27 million in 2008".
"The statistics give a clear indication that growth is returning to the Northern Ireland air travel market," Mr Hamilton told Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie in response to a question posed by the MLA.