New Ryanair flights will boost economy
The news that Ryanair is establishing a base at Belfast International Airport and providing seven new routes to Germany, Italy, Spain, The Canary Islands and Poland has met with shouts of approval.
As an island nation we often feel remote when it comes to arranging short breaks to destinations in places like Germany and Italy and even Geneva in Switzerland, where we can (at present) only fly during the skiing season.
It's about time other airlines sat up and took notice of this brave step. All too often we find ourselves having to connect through other hubs (like London, Birmingham or Manchester) in order to reach certain parts of Europe.
But all that looks set to change as more routes are added - not just at Belfast International, but also at George Best Belfast City Airport, where Ryanair had a base until 2010.
This news means that we will, once again, be able to fly directly to places like Berlin - something we haven't been able to do for quite some time now.
For Northern Ireland, the German and Italian routes are of particular importance from an economic perspective. The routes to Berlin and Milan will open up potentially very lucrative markets for both business and private air passengers.
I believe the addition of these new routes at Belfast International will prove to be a great boost for our rapidly expanding tourism, retailing and services sectors.
In addition it was cheering to hear that these new Ryanair routes have been introduced at no cost whatsoever to the taxpayer and include absolutely no support from th Government.
But the best part of the announcement is that this will lead to further growth in employment, with approximately 300 direct new jobs being created.
Personally, I am particularly thrilled with the introduction of the Berlin and Milan routes. I'm already planning a number of trips to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and La Scala in Milan, where I'll now be in funds to pay for more expensive seats as a result of the savings realised from sitting in the cheap seats on offer from Ryanair on the way there.
Donald C McFetridge is a retail analyst at Ulster University