Lord Empey has urged the Government to ring-fence slots at Heathrow for regional airports following Tuesday’s expansion decision.
The Ulster Unionist peer pressed the case with the transport minister, saying: “You can have as many runways as you like, but it is landing slots that matter.”
He said the Government did not have the power at present to ring-fence landing slots at Heathrow to protect regional airports because of EU legislation.
He added: “Now that we are leaving the European Union, I invited the minister to confirm that he would now support my (Airports) Bill and guarantee that Northern Ireland would retain its access to Heathrow.”
“While I welcome the minister’s assurance that Northern Ireland and other regions will have their interests protected, including with new routes, there is still no legislative ability for the government to enforce its worthy aims.”
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton also welcomed the Government’s plans for a new runway at Heathrow.
The MLA said: “This is good news for Northern Ireland as Heathrow acts as a key route for access to London, mainland Europe and other important markets.
“Our connectivity to global business and inward tourism markets is dependent on the high frequency, economic and easy to use connections to international flights through a hub airport such as Heathrow.”