New airline Fly Atlantic plans to launch transatlantic flights from Belfast

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New airline Fly Atlantic plans to launch transatlantic flights from Belfast International Airport in the summer of 2024.

It aims to fly to the US and Canada, British and European destinations and, once fully operational, plans to fly to 35 destinations.

This initial announcement is the first stage in its plans; the next steps will be securing aircraft and a licence, BBC reported.

Norwegian announces 23 new routes from Oslo and Copenhagen.

Initially, the airline says it will employ 50 people at Belfast International Airport and 250 crew.

It plans to create 1,000 jobs in the first five years within the airline.

The new airline says it will create a major hub linking Europe with North American destinations to supplement local passenger numbers.

It will initially operate six aircraft at its Antrim base, growing to a fleet of 18 by 2028.

Lower cost long-haul travel is not a new idea but it has proved difficult to sustain in practice.

The entrepreneur Freddie Laker started a no-frills service between London and New York in the late 1970s, but it collapsed within five years.

Condor resumed flights to Grenada and Tobago.

Hong Kong-based airline Oasis was another notable failure in 2008, having hoped to serve up to 60 major cities.

Norwegian was the most credible of recent attempts but was ultimately undone by the pandemic and has restructured to focus on short haul.

Fly Atlantic’s chief executive Andrew Pyne said: “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.

“We already have offices at the airport and will now be building out the infrastructure to support the airline’s launch.”

Managing director of Belfast International Airport Graham Keddie welcomed the announcement by Fly Atlantic.

“We 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,” he said.