Londonderry-based transport firm Airporter to expand into Belfast

The Londonderry-based transport firm Airporter has announced that it is to expand its operations.

The company, which carries thousands of passengers from Derry to the two Belfast airports every year, will now provide a service to Belfast city centre.

The announcement comes just two days after Dublin-based coach company Aircoach revealed that it would be suspending its six-year-old Belfast to Dublin Airport route from 29 October.

Airporter director Niall McKeever said that the company had flourished despite a decline in air travellers flying into and out of Northern Ireland.

"Two years ago seven million people used Belfast City and Belfast International. What we're looking at today is a 10% reduction on those numbers. But we see it as still a huge volume of people to provide public transport to," he said.

Explaining the company's rationale for expanding its service into Belfast, Mr McKeever said Aiporter had identified a gap in the market.

"We've found that the east part of Belfast city centre where the Belfast Hilton and Belfast Waterfront are located has no direct access to the International Airport. As of Monday week we'll now be connecting the two Belfast airports and the centre of Derry to Belfast city centre."

Mr McKeever said the expansion would ensure job security for existing employees and added he expected the company to continue expanding over the next couple of years.