Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey, has introduced a Private Members Bill into Parliament to protect landing slots at Heathrow Airport for UK regions, with a view to enacting legislation to secure the vital link between Belfast and Heathrow.
The move follows frequently expressed concern by the former UUP leader that the province could suffer under high pressure competitio n for space at the major global hub.
“For several years now I have been lobbying the Government to take steps to ensure that the air-links between the national hub of Heathrow and the UK regions are protected in law,” he said.
“I am particularly concerned that the Heathrow slots owned by commercial airlines which currently serve aircraft to and from Belfast could be vulnerable if airlines seek to transfer them to more lucrative routes.”
As such, he said he wished to put in place a long-term guarantee that there will be access for flights from Belfast to London Heathrow, given its importance to Northern Ireland’s future economic well-being.
“In light of the Bill’s need to comply with European law, I remain in close contact with my Party colleague, Jim Nicholson MEP.
“Next month I will be visiting Brussels for a series of meetings with the Commission, UK officials in Brussels and with the Chair of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament.”