Viewpoint: The sky is the limit
It is, truly, a new era in passenger aviation when the Republic's former state airline invests £108 million into Northern Ireland.
Aer Lingus formally began operations from its Belfast hub today and straight away it has shown that it is serious about its entry into the Northern Ireland market and the extensive network across GB and Europe afforded by Belfast International airport.
Three aircraft have been based in the province, and the company will employ 100 people here. Despite a bumpy beginning, it is probably the most significant arrival in the local market since easyJet landed back in the 1990s.
Destinations include Geneva, Barcelona and Amsterdam, as well as the ever-popular (and often frustrating) Heathrow.
Another Irish airline, Ryanair, is signalling serious plans for Belfast, however. The company will not, initially at least, offer European choices to its customers.
Ryanair rarely does things half-heartedly, though, and it is bidding to have the runway at Belfast City airport extended, enabling it to fly bigger planes.
Passengers will celebrate the depth of choice in terms of fares and destinations, and the increase in passengers will help make the case for train halts at our airports.