Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have announced significant expansion plans at Belfast International Airport.
The company has announced four new routes: Prague and Rome – the only direct services available from Northern Ireland – plus sizzling sunshine hotspots Gran Canaria and Zante.
The introduction of these routes, along with the addition of a third dedicated aircraft, will see Jet2.com operate its biggest ever flying programme from Belfast International Airport next year
Jet2holidays is also celebrating an increase in customer numbers, with bookings up a massive 50 per cent year on year.
As a result of this continued expansion by both businesses, 86 new jobs will be created at the airport. Roles available will include flight and cabin crew, engineers and ground operations staff.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “In our 10th year of flying from Belfast International Airport we are thrilled to be announcing major growth plans for summer 2015.
“Since our first flight took off we’ve not only increased capacity but we have also grown our destinations from two to 16.
“Our city break offering continues to expand with the introduction of Prague and Rome, plus the addition of Gran Canaria means holidaymakers now have a trio of Canary Island gems to choose from. What’s more we have introduced our first Greek hotspot – the stunning Island of Zante.
“These developments really demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing our loyal local customers with unrivalled choice and flexibility when it comes to planning their next well earned break. With our fantastic range of destinations, coupled with great flight times and award winning customer service, we are confident we have the right mix to cement our position as one of the leading leisure operators at Belfast International Airport.”
Uel Hoey, business development director at Belfast International Airport, added: “This very welcome announcement is the best way for Jet2.com and Jet2holidays to celebrate 10 years of flying from Belfast International Airport. This major expansion reinforces the airline’s belief in Northern Ireland.”
MP for South Antrim, William McCrea welcomed the expansion saying it “represents a vote of confidence in the staff and management of the airport”.
“I am pleased that Jet2 should have chosen to make this significant investment in the South Antrim area, which will provide a significant boost to the Northern Ireland economy,” Mr McCrea said.
He added: “I know that the DETI Minister and her officials have been working closely with all concerned to secure the delivery of this very good news. I congratulate everyone involved with this project.
“I hope that we will continue to witness the growth, development and expansion of the International Airport well in to the future.”
DUP Assemblyman Trevor Clarke said that Jet2’s decision to increase flights on several routes “goes to prove that the International Airport has the capacity to deal with more air traffic and demonstrates that it is the facility most capable of doing so in Northern Ireland”.
“With such a demand on their flights to four holiday destinations, the company’s decision to expand, results in the operator running its biggest flying programme out of the International Airport next year, as well as appointing new staff roles,” Mr Clarke said.
He added: “The International Airport clearly has the facilities and infrastructure to deal with more air traffic and more routes, along with its advantages of being centrally located for the whole Province and no issues with disruption to residents and their property.
South Antrim UUP MLA Danny Kinahan described the announcement as “really fantastic news”.
“Not only does this announcement give us a boost with extra jobs being created at Belfast International Airport, it also includes news of flights to new destinations. This demonstrates the confidence in the market here,” Mr Kinahan said.
He added that it was extremely welcome news for the local economy.