£4m Stormont fund to boost air routes
Belfast International Airport has welcomed the announcement of a new £4m fund to support the development of air routes - but added that the fund, aimed at airlines, was not the real key to growth.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell said the money was to be made available over the next three years.
Mr Bell added that it will be specifically for the development of unserved routes with a high potential for inbound tourism and business. He said: "From an economic development perspective I want to ensure we maximise the business opportunities through connectivity to strategic destinations and ensure we can attract visitors into Northern Ireland to experience our world class tourist offering.
"I believe Northern Ireland would benefit economically from greater connectivity to a range of unserved short haul destinations within Europe, as well as greater long haul connectivity to Canada and the Middle East."
BIA managing director Graham Keddie said getting rid of air passenger duty was more important.
"While we welcome the introduction of this new initiative, the removal of UK air passenger duty on flights departing from Northern Ireland remains the real and fundamental key to unlocking significant growth in direct air access," he said.