Belfast International Airport’s Gatwick service is now the UK’s busiest domestic air route, according to figures released by the CAA.
The Belfast-Gatwick service operated by easyJet and Ryanair overtook the Edinburgh-Heathrow link to become the country’s largest domestic route.
Overall, Belfast has overtaken Gatwick to become the UK’s fourth largest airport for domestic operations and now just sits behind Edinburgh, Heathrow and Glasgow in the domestic traffic ‘league table’.
The CAA’s January statistics show how in excess of 77,000 passengers chose the Belfast-Gatwick services, which was more than 1,600 ahead of the traditional headline performer, Edinburgh-Heathrow.
Belfast International Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, said: “These figures give us cause for celebration.
“These are impressive numbers and we see our performance strengthening as the year progresses. We remain firmly on course for a record year with more that 5.4 million passengers, and that’s down to our airlines and our commitment to do everything we can to expand.
“We’ve had the breakthrough we all wanted with confirmation that Norwegian will operate two new trans-Atlantic services to New York and Boston. They will help boost long-haul passenger traffic and be pivotal when it comes to attracting greater numbers of American tourists to Northern Ireland.
“We’re the only Northern Ireland airport experiencing growth, and we see that pace being maintained and accelerated. We are working with airlines to open routes to European cities not currently served from Belfast International.
“Of course, as we grow, so too will all of our on-site businesses. Passenger demand is leading to the creation of hundreds of new jobs.
“We recently did a Job Fair at St Mary’s University College on the Falls Road in west Belfast where all of our businesses had 100 jobs on offer. Close to 300 job-seekers attended and we believe all the positions will be filled shortly.
“If we continue to grow at this rate, I expect we will create scores more new jobs this year. Many hundreds more could be generated if the Government suspended the application of Air Passenger Duty (APD) in Northern Ireland, which is the biggest obstacle we have to growing this vital sector.”