Belfast has been chosen as the base for a brand new major international airline, with direct routes to North America, Britain and continental Europe from Belfast International Airport.
Fly Atlantic plans to launch the new low-cost airline in Summer 2024, servicing 35 destinations and creating 1,000 jobs within the airline, and up to 21,000 in tourism and support sectors by 2030, with flights expected to go on sale from the beginning of 2024.
The airline will serve as a major hub for Belfast International, linking traffic to and from Europe with North American destinations.
The airport, which was selected against strong competition from other airports in the UK and Ireland, will host a fleet of six aircraft initially, which will grow to 18 by 2028.
The airline will initially operate six aircraft at its Antrim base, growing to a fleet of 18 by 2028. The airline is in discussion with both Boeing and Airbus over aircraft, with the choice being between the Boeing MAX and the Airbus A321.
Fly Atlantic’s chief executive Andrew Pyne outlined the reasons for choosing to base the airline in Belfast: “Our vision is of Belfast as a strong aviation hub linking Europe and North America. The lack of direct transatlantic air services has clearly been an impediment to Northern Ireland’s economic and tourism development, which we now intend to remove. The project can be a gamechanger. We will be offering affordable fares with brand new aircraft. We already have offices at the airport and will now be building out the infrastructure to support the airline’s launch. We start recruiting for the team early in 2023.”
He said: “We looked at many options throughout the UK and Ireland. Belfast International and Vinci stood out in terms of the facilities that they offered us and by their enthusiasm for and commitment to making this project a reality. Northern Ireland has a proud aviation and engineering history, and we are delighted to be able to build on this tradition as we develop the airline and its support functions.”
Mr Pyne also acknowledged the support received from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
“The Council has been right behind the project from the start. Its commitment and consistent support has been a key factor in deciding to base here. We are pleased that the Council shares our vision for Fly Atlantic and for the future of Belfast International as a major hub airport. This is an airline that will deliver greater connectivity and help transmit Northern Ireland’s unique identity to a global audience.”