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Northern Ireland’s ‘omission’ from air bridges puts jobs at risk – airport boss

The new regulations only currently apply to England.

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Graham Keddie has criticised the Northern Ireland Executive (Niall Carson/PA)

Graham Keddie has criticised the Northern Ireland Executive (Niall Carson/PA)

Graham Keddie has criticised the Northern Ireland Executive (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland’s “omission” from Westminster’s announced air bridges plan places hundreds of jobs at risk, an airport boss has claimed.

On Friday, the UK Government published a list of 73 countries and territories where English holidaymakers can visit without self-isolating on their return.

It includes popular short-haul destinations such as Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, as well as long-haul locations including Australia, Barbados, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and Vietnam.

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Jets on the tarmac of Belfast International Airport, which reopened on Monday June 15 (Niall Carson/PA)

Jets on the tarmac of Belfast International Airport, which reopened on Monday June 15 (Niall Carson/PA)

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Jets on the tarmac of Belfast International Airport, which reopened on Monday June 15 (Niall Carson/PA)

However, the policy only applies to England as the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales had not signed off on the plan before it was made public.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the devolved Government will make a decision on the issue “as soon as we can”.

The managing director of Belfast International Airport Graham Keddie has criticised the Northern Ireland Executive for “remaining silent” on the matter, claiming hundreds of jobs are at risk.

Mr Keddie described the situation as “deeply disappointing and frustrating”.

“Unfortunately this has been further compounded by the silence from the NI Executive,” he said.

“The simple truth is that Northern Ireland’s omission leaves hundreds of jobs at risk at a time when the travel and tourism industry needs to see leadership and support from Government.

“This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency in order to save jobs and save our connectivity.”

A spokesman for The Executive Office said: “The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 came into operation on June 8.

“Amendments to the Regulations are currently being considered and will be for the Executive to agree.”

PA