Sir Richard Branson’s airline Virgin Atlantic is to fly from Northern Ireland for the first time.
Virgin will operate a total of eight services between Belfast International and Orlando in Florida in June and July 2015.
The service augments the existing Virgin service between Glasgow and Orlando, with the first Belfast-Orlando flight leaving on June 25 next year.
Virgin is also expanding its existing Las Vegas services by operating flights to the Nevada gambling city from Glasgow in autumn 2015.
There will be eight flights, with the first leaving Glasgow on September 10 2015.
Virgin chief executive Craig Kreeger said: “I am delighted we are able to offer customers in Northern Ireland and Scotland the opportunity to travel on Virgin Atlantic to two of our most popular leisure destinations next summer.”
The service will use a 747-400 capable of carrying 455 passengers.
Aldergrove hailed the announcement as “a massive breakthrough” for the Province. The airport’s director, Uel Hoey, said: “We have been having conversations with Virgin for three years and this news is the outworking of that engagement. Virgin has a reputation that is second to none with a quality product and level of service on long-haul routes that others cannot match.
“We are delighted with this decision which is not only a vote of confidence in Belfast International Airport but Northern Ireland. From June next year, we will be the only airport on the island to accommodate a Virgin service and that is something we are particularly pleased about.”
He added: “Passengers from the Republic of Ireland will be drawn to Virgin and Belfast and a full promotionsl campaign will accompany this roll-out.
Meanwhile, Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates airline, yesterday increased the frequency of its direct flights from Abu Dhabi - Dublin service from ten flights per week, to twice daily.