United restores year-round direct flights from Belfast to New York

Belfast International Airport director welcomes resumption of full-year service ‘lifeline’ for US firms

Belfast International Airport’s managing director said United’s decision was a positive development for the local economy. Photograph: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Belfast International Airport’s managing director said United’s decision was a positive development for the local economy. Photograph: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

 

United Airlines confirmed plans Monday to reintroduce a year-round service between Belfast and its New York hub, Newark Liberty International Airport.

The North’s only non-stop transatlantic service, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, will operate three times weekly from Belfast International Airport.

Bob Schumacher, United’s managing director sales in Britain and Ireland said that in addition to its current schedule, the airline will also operate the service from January 7th through to March 10th, 2016.

“New York remains a popular destination for travellers and our Newark Liberty hub provides the most convenient route into the city as well as easy connections to hundreds of other destinations across the United States and beyond. With this schedule change, we are offering our customers even more choice,” Mr Schumacher said.

Two years ago, in order to safeguard the route, the British government took the decision to devolve air taxes charged on all long haul flights from the North to the Northern Ireland Executive. Air Passenger Duty was subsequently abolished on the Belfast/Newark route.

Belfast International Airport’s managing director Graham Keddie said United’s decision is a positive development for the local economy.

“We have been working with stakeholders to achieve this outcome and we are delighted it is now being delivered. The decision by United to return to full year-round service is of great significance to the Northern Ireland economy.

“Our one and only direct, scheduled transatlantic service is a ‘lifeline’ for US-owned firms and adds massively to efforts by Invest NI to attract additional and highly prized US investment,” Mr Keddie added.

But he said there remained “challenges”, including “how to encourage more business passengers to use the main local airport for the transatlantic trip rather than go elsewhere”.

According to figures published earlier this year by Dublin Airport, a record number of people from Northern Ireland chose to travel though Dublin last year. Dublin Airport said passenger numbers from the North soared to a high of 864,000.

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