A team led by Belfast International Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, is heading to Kraków this weekend to attend Routes Europe, the top international airline showcase event of 2016. The event will be attended by over 100 airlines and 300 airports.
There have been several major developments since last year’s conference which was held in Durban.
Ryanair has started a new, four times daily Belfast-Gatwick service, to be followed by seven routes in the autumn including Berlin and Milan. The airline will also step up daily activity on Gatwick to five a-day in the autumn, and expects to carry over one million passengers in the first full year of operation.
Existing airlines, easyJet, Jet2, Wizz and United have all been in expansion mode with hundreds of thousands additional seats on offer. As a result, the airport expects to top the five million-passenger mark in 2016 with further, similarly impressive growth anticipated next year.
Thirdly, the devolved administration at Stormont announced a £4 million fund to support the development of new air routes over the next three years.
Finally, the airport is continuing to invest in passenger facilities with £5 million earmarked to be spent this year.
Mr. Keddie said: “We have a lot of good news to share with airlines in Kraków. Passenger numbers are heading in the right direction and interest in Northern Ireland, rekindled after considerable effort and, of course, the massive investment by Ryanair, will serve to whet the appetite of airlines not currently gracing the airport apron.
“We will be promoting the airport and, by extension, Northern Ireland. Next year, Belfast will host Routes Europe, which is a major coup for us, and we will want to make sure we get the most out of what will be a very significant opportunity to showcase what we have to offer and what we can offer new carriers.
“We’re at the forefront of driving direct, in-bound tourism to Northern Ireland and Krakow and Belfast will see us re-double our efforts to demonstrate that we have a world-class product with the support, know-how and back-up that’s needed to provide a real boost to the local economy.”