Flybe swoops on Ryanair Belfast routes
Northern Ireland's travel industry received a vital boost after airline Flybe announced three new routes from George Belfast City Airport less than a week after rival Ryanair announced it was leaving the airport.
Meanwhile, easyJet has promised those left stranded by Ryanair a 'rescue fee' of £10 and places on flights to Glasgow, Liverpool, Bristol and London Stansted, where available.
Flybe said its plans would involve placing two extra aircraft at the airport with the potential creation of 250 indirect jobs, adding to the 215 already directly employed by Flybe in Belfast.
Its flights to Bristol, East Midlands and Liverpool airports represent 100 flights a week to three of the five routes served by Ryanair until its boss Michael O'Leary announced his airline's imminent departure.
Mike Rutter, Flybe's chief commercial officer, said the three routes were "crucial" to Northern Ireland. "Flybe has been serving the community in Northern Ireland for over 26 years and we are wholly committed to continue providing comprehensive connectivity throughout the UK and beyond to convenient destinations at competitive prices with maximum flexibility and choice."
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster congratulated the airline for filling the routes vacated by Ryanair and showing "long-term commitment" to Northern Ireland.
EasyJet is offering a special rescue fee of £10 each way to travel on the routes where its flights overlapped with those of Ryanair, using easyJet's services from Belfast International Airport.
The offer is available to any Ryanair passengers due to travel on these routes between October 31 and November 30, subject to availability on the day of flight.