Around 30,000 passengers passed through Belfast airports yesterday on the busiest day of the year as families and friends reunited for Christmas.
There were lots of smiles, but plenty of tears too, as loved ones were embraced as they arrived from as far away as Australia.
Belfast International catered for 20,000 passengers – with almost 125,000 passing through over the course of Christmas and the new year.
The airport’s operational director Alan Whiteside said: “Christmas is always a busy time for us, and this year won’t be any different.
“After Boxing Day, activity ratchets back up for the big New Year ‘exodus’ with people flying out after the break and families taking off for a skiing or sunshine holiday. The Terminal is a welcoming place for people coming home. For many of them, coming through Arrivals can be emotional as they are re-united with family and friends.”
Mr Whiteside told UTV: “We will have people travelling great distances to be in Northern Ireland this Christmas. Whole families turn up to welcome home their loved ones, and it is a heart-warming sight.”
Katy Best of George Best Belfast City Airport, said: “We have extra staff on hand to make sure everyone’s journey is as smooth as possible including present wrapping stations within the security area. Pupils from our adopted schools were invited in to officially turn on our Christmas lights and choirs have been in the terminal entertaining passengers throughout the festive season.
“As a partner of Age NI’s No One Should Have No One at Christmas campaign, we also hosted a coffee morning for our friends from Age NI.”