- Fly Atlantic starts out as a major international airline based in Belfast
- New direct services from Belfast International to North America, the UK and continental Europe
- Up to 21,000 new jobs are to be created by 2030
Fly Atlantic announced today (22 November) its plans to create a new low-cost transatlantic airline based at Belfast International Airport, offering affordable direct flights to the US and Canada, as well as a number of new UK and continental European destinations.
Once fully operational, Fly Atlantic plans to operate 35 destinations from Belfast, creating 1,000 jobs within the airline and up to 21,000 in the tourism and support sectors.
The airline plans to operate from summer 2024 with flights on sale earlier this year. The new airline will create a key hub at Belfast International, linking traffic to/from Europe with North American destinations to complement local passenger numbers.
Belfast International was chosen as the base airport against stiff competition from other airports in the UK and Ireland. The airline will initially operate six aircraft from its Antrim base, growing to a fleet of 18 by 2028. The airline is in talks on aircraft with both Boeing and Airbus, with a choice between the Boeing MAX and the Airbus A321.
Fly Atlantic Chief Executive Andrew Pyne explained the rationale behind the decision to base the airline in Northern Ireland:
“Our vision is for Belfast to be a strong aviation hub connecting 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 aim to remove. The project can be a game changer. We will offer affordable fares with brand new aircraft. We already have offices at the airport and will now build the infrastructure to support the airline’s launch. We will start recruiting for the team in early 2023.”
“We looked at a lot of options across the UK and Ireland. Belfast International and Vinci stood out for the facilities they offered us and for their enthusiasm 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 that heritage as the airline develops and its support functions.”
Mr Pyne also acknowledged the support of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council:
“The Council has been behind the project from the start. His dedication and consistent support were key factors in the decision to settle here. We are delighted that the Council shares our vision for Fly Atlantic and for the future of Belfast International as a key hub airport. This is an airline that will offer greater connectivity and help convey Northern Ireland’s unique identity to a global audience.”
The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Alderman Stephen Ross said:
“The announcement of Fly Atlantic is fantastic news, not just for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough but for Northern Ireland as a whole. Thanks to Fly Atlantic’s unique partnership with Belfast International Airport, we will soon be able to offer direct access to worldwide destinations. Improving connectivity is an important part of our economic development strategy and we are delighted that Fly Atlantic has selected Belfast International Airport as its hub, offering direct flights to North America, the UK and Europe.
“This is a pivotal moment for Northern Ireland and the most significant announcement in local aviation in recent history. Belfast International Airport is the ideal hub for Fly Atlantic to build its operations due to its location, propulsion and ability to offer passengers unparalleled experiences and routes.” said Councilman Ross.
Welcoming Fly Atlantic’s commitment to be based at Belfast International Airport, Graham Keddie, Managing Director of Belfast International Airport, said:
“We welcome Fly Atlantic’s announcement and look forward to them bringing this project to fruition as it would have very real economic benefits for Northern Ireland’s economy and would further enhance our international connectivity.”