Northern Ireland

Eight new European routes for Belfast International Airport

Belfast International Airport
Image caption In 2016, a record 7.8 million passengers used Northern Ireland's airports

The low-cost airline Jet2 is expanding its operations at Belfast International Airport.

An additional aircraft will be based at Aldergrove, bringing the total to four, and the company will add more holiday destinations to its schedules.

The new routes are Naples, Madeira, Almeria, Antalya, Crete, Malta, Rhodes and Paphos.

The airport said the move will create 50 jobs.

Jet2 has been operating from Belfast International Airport for more than a decade.

During that time it has dropped a number of routes, such as Pisa, Murcia and Prague, in favour of other destinations.

'Multi-million pound commitment'

Belfast International predicts it will handle a record 5.6 million passengers this year.

Most of its recent growth has been driven by the arrival of Ryanair, which began operating from Belfast International Airport last year.

Graham Keddie, the airport's managing director, said Jet2's decision to base another aircraft in Belfast was "a multi-million pound commitment".

"It is the clearest possible signal by the airline that Northern Ireland is a good place to invest," he added.

Mr Keddie had announced the latest expansion at a major airline conference in Belfast on Wednesday, but without revealing the identity of the airline involved.

In 2016, a record 7.8 million passengers used Northern Ireland's airports, but expansion of long-haul routes has been challenging against the dominance of Dublin Airport.

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