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Air Iceland flights between Belfast and Reykjavik welcomed

A new air route linking Northern Ireland to Iceland has been announced.

The service will run three times a week between George Best Belfast City International Airport and Reykjavik.

It is being operated by Icelandair's sister airline Air Iceland and will fly all year round.

Birkir Holm Guonason, Icelandair chief executive, said: "Belfast is a vibrant, fast-growing city with great business and leisure opportunities and we are happy to be able to offer our customers this exciting addition to our network."

The news has been welcomed by Stormont's Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton.

He said: "This new route to Iceland, which will open up connections to North America, is another important step as we continue to build our air connectivity so that it is as easy as possible for people all over the world to access Northern Ireland for both business and tourism purposes."

Flight times between the two cities are estimated at just over two-and-a-half hours.

Katy Best, commercial and marketing director at the City Airport, said the flight would add a major boost to the Northern Irish economy.

She said: "Icelandair has a proven international pedigree and our partnership with the airline for this new service will be a hugely welcome addition to the local market for business and leisure passengers.

"With a fantastic range of cultural events, activities and historical sites, the Icelandic capital is an increasingly popular tourist destination, while the route offers passengers an extremely convenient connection to a host of destinations in the USA and Canada."

Last month it was announced Northern Ireland's only direct link to the United States would be axed early in the New Year.

The United Airlines daily flight from Belfast International Airport and Newark was deemed no longer viable, despite a £9 million support package from government ministers.

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