Belfast Telegraph

Heathrow expansion 'to open more routes to Northern Ireland'

By Ryan McAleer

The UK's Aviation Minister has suggested that the building of a third runway at Heathrow could create new routes to Belfast International and City of Derry airports.

British Airways and Aer Lingus are the only airlines currently operating flights from Belfast to the UK's largest airport.

However, speaking yesterday, Baroness Liz Sugg claimed Northern Ireland could be in line for a positive knock-on from the expansion.

"Both easyJet and Flybe have a special interest in operating flights in Northern Ireland, so that could include new flights from Belfast International and Londonderry," she said.

"It'll open up the tourism market and the trade market to many more destinations."

Speaking ahead of a vote in the House of Commons on the proposed third runway at Heathrow, the Aviation Minister said around 15% of new flights will be ring-fenced for domestic routes.

"We are absolutely committed to making sure that the expansion benefits all corners of the UK," she added.

"What we've seen recently at Heathrow, because of the demand there, is that lots of domestic flights are being squeezed out by the more profitable international bigger planes."

The Government suffered a resignation in the Cabinet yesterday when International Trade Minister Greg Hand quit over the failure to grant Tory MPs a free vote on Monday.

"Understandably there are some MPs in constituencies around Heathrow who are looking to represent their views," added Baroness Sugg.

"But we are very clear that we think expansion at Heathrow is the right way forward."

Belfast Telegraph

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