Belfast-Brussels air route to launch in March
Flights between Belfast and Brussels will begin in March, airport authorities said.
Five scheduled services a week will be operated by Brussels Airlines from George Best Belfast City Airport.
Flights to Belgium's administrative centre of the EU, home to the European Parliament and European Commission, will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
Passengers will be able to continue their journey to Brussels Airlines destinations in Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, Austria, Hungary or Poland.
The launch of the Belfast service means Belgian aviation is back in Ireland after an absence of 15 years.
Brussels Airlines chief commercial officer Lars Redeligx said: "We are delighted that we can add Ireland to our continuously growing map of European destinations.
"On a weekly basis we will offer close to 1,000 seats on the route. Belfast is an important touristic, administrative and economic destination.
"Thanks to our investment in this new service we give the region also access to our Brussels Airlines and Star Alliance network. This is not only great news for the inhabitants of the Belfast area but also for the economy and the tourism industry in Ireland."
Brian Ambrose, chief executive of George Best Belfast City Airport, said 2015 has been a very successful year for Belfast City Airport, with passengers numbers expected to be up 10% on last year.
"We have had our sights set on increasing connectivity with key European destinations and I am delighted that we have been able to deliver on these promises, commencing both an Amsterdam and Brussels service."
Other direct international connections from Belfast include New York.
Government jobs promotion agency Invest NI's chief executive, Alastair Hamilton, said this new air route will be important in helping deliver direct links with Europe.
"Our local exporters will now be positioned to take advantage of the direct connectivity it will offer to Brussels, but also be able to use this service as a springboard further into Europe."
Ann McGregor, chief executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) said the introduction of new routes benefits local business people in developing business linkages and improving access to overseas customers and international markets.
"In particular, this new service will restore Northern Ireland's direct air connection to the very heart of Europe, building our position as a destination for business and leisure tourism."