A new airline offering low-cost flights from Belfast to North America will be a “game-changer” for the industry, according to its CEO.
Fly Atlantic aims to be up and running by the summer of 2024, offering flights to Europe and North America.
The airline intends to operate 35 routes from Belfast, creating 1,00 jobs in the process.
It estimates that a further 21,000 jobs will be created in the tourism and support sectors as a result.
The new airline’s CEO Andrew Pyne said the North’s tourism and foreign direct investment sectors are being held back by the lack of direct trans-Atlantic flights.
“I think it is a game-changer,” he said.
“You know we are very conscious of the fact that the lack of direct air links between Northern Ireland and North America has been an inhibiting factor for investment and tourism here so I think it would be a dramatic element in shaping Northern Ireland’s economy.
“Particularly the tourism sector but not just the tourism sector.”
He said the new routes will include some cities with no current travel links to Ireland.
“Fly Atlantic will be a low-cost, low-fare airline so we will be very competitive in terms of the fares we offer between North America and Northern Ireland,” he said.
“We’re looking at a whole range of cities in the US and Canada which have had no direct air links before with the island of Ireland.”
Fly Atlantic plans to begin operations with six planes flying from Belfast International Airport.
It plans to grow that to a fleet of 18 by 2028.
It’s in talks with both Boeing and Airbus over the purchase of the aircraft.