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New Jet2 flights will put four top holiday destinations within easy reach from Belfast... and bring 86 new jobs to airport
Airline Jet2 is creating almost 90 jobs at Belfast International Airport after announcing four new routes from its Northern Ireland base.
The carrier will start flying to Prague, Rome, Gran Canaria and Zante in Greece from next summer.
The 86 jobs include positions as flight and cabin crew, engineers and ground operations staff.
Jet2 said it was also adding a third dedicated aircraft to its Belfast operations.
The new routes join recently-announced links to Iceland and Florida from Aldergrove, and despite a scaling back of the service to Newark in the USA from next year, the airport is still flying passengers to more than 70 destinations worldwide.
Two Jet2 flights will depart each week for the capital cities of Italy and the Czech Republic – the only direct services available from Northern Ireland
The expansion plan will provide an additional aircraft to jet passengers on weekly flights to Gran Canaria and the island of Zante.
Jet2's overall progamme will now incorporate more than 70 services a week from Belfast to 16 destinations, and will includemore flights laid on to Malaga on the southern Spanish coast.
The expansion has been prompted by a sharp rise in bookings, which saw a 50% year on year increase for the airline.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, announced the new growth plans in its 10th year of flying out of the International.
"These developments really demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing our loyal local customers," he said.
Jonathan Bell MLA said the investment of an additional aircraft "enhances Northern Ireland's accessibility".
"Northern Ireland's airports are gateways for tourism and business activity and air travel plays a central role in economic development.
"These new jobs will contribute £2.2m annually in salaries," he added.
Uel Hoey, business development director at Belfast International Airport, said the "major expansion reinforces the airline's belief in Northern Ireland".
Story so far
The announcement of the new Jet2 destinations is the latest boost to services at the International Airport. Earlier this month Virgin Atlantic announced flights between Belfast and Florida over a four-week period next summer. The carrier will operate a total of eight services between Belfast International and Orlando in June and July 2015. And also this month easyJet launched a direct flight from Belfast to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik.