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Air connectivity vital for economic recovery: Dodds

Economy Minister Diane Dodds (centre) at George Best Belfast City Airport with (from left) Chief Executive Brian Ambrose and Commercial Director Katy Best.

Northern Ireland’s economic recovery needs air connectivity to return to its pre-Covid levels as soon as possible, the Economy Minister said today.

The Minister was speaking as she announced the development of the Northern Ireland Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme (NIDAKS) which is a support scheme for airlines aimed at enhancing air connectivity with the rest of the United Kingdom following the pandemic.

She said:

Air connectivity is vital for Northern Ireland’s economic recovery. That is why I have approved the appointment of aviation consultants who will design and develop an airline support scheme to maintain and enhance Northern Ireland’s domestic air connectivity with Great Britain this summer.

“We have engaged with our three local airports and the airlines. NIDAKS’ aim is to support inbound tourism and business travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and to encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the local economy. These are essential for recovery.”

The Minister was on a visit to George Best Belfast City Airport (GBBCA) to welcome the announcement by Stobart Air that it is to launch a new route from the airport to Cardiff from June 28.

She said:

“The new route, which will operate four days a week, is a reassuring signal that confidence in aviation is growing. This will be an important route for business travellers but I sincerely hope it will be not long before tourists also use the route to visit Northern Ireland on holiday. This is another welcome sign that we gradually returning to normal life post-Covid. I am very hopeful that other airlines will follow Stobart’s example.”

During her visit, the Minister met Chief Executive Brian Ambrose and Commercial Director Katy Best. They also discussed prospects for international travel this summer.

The Minister added:

“International travel must be safe for all. However, I am absolutely clear on its importance to our airports, airlines and the wider travel industry. I want to see the return of safe international travel as soon as possible.”

Further details on the NIDAKS, which is planned to open this summer, will be available in due course.