The latest route to operate from George Best City Airport has made its inaugural flight as Icelandair begins its service to Reykjavik.
The new route comes as the airport officially passed into the hands of new owners, the investment group 3i at the end of a process announced late last year.
The new year-round service will operate up to three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
“Icelandair is proud to welcome Belfast on board as our latest UK gateway, working again in partnership with our sister airline Air Iceland Connect who will operate the service,” said Icelandair CEO Birkir Holm Guðnason.”
“This addition improves our connectivity and enables us to carry even more passengers to our 18 gateways across the US and Canada, via our hub in Reykjavik.”
The new Belfast route is operated by Air Iceland Connect on its 72 seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft in a code sharing partnership with Icelandair, offering great connections at Keflavik International Airport in Iceland to destinations in the US and Canada through Icelandair‘s network
The flight time is 2:55 hours to and from George Best Belfast City Airport.
“This is a hugely exciting period for Belfast City Airport following our recent co-hosting of the Routes Europe conference, and the launch of our new three-times weekly flight to Reykjavik will help continue the positive momentum,” said Belfast City CEO Brian Ambrose.
“We have a strong track record of forming successful partnerships with internationally-renowned airlines such as Icelandair.
“There has been strong demand for the flights since they were announced in December, with the route offering passengers an extremely convenient connection to a host of destinations in the USA and Canada, and we are confident this will continue to grow.”
The new service was also welcomed by tourism chief Gerry Lennon, CEO of Visit Belfast, who said air connectivity is critical to welcoming more international visitors to Belfast and achieving the city’s ambition of doubling tourism spend by 2021.
“Icelandair’s new service and extensive global network enables Visit Belfast and our tourism partners to proactively engage with potential visitors, from not only Iceland but other key markets including North America,” he said.
Aileen Hickey, Tourism Ireland’s Manager for the Nordic Region, said:
“The new Icelandair flight is really good news for tourism to Belfast and Northern Ireland. Not only will it help grow visitor numbers from Iceland, but this new service will also offer connectivity between North America and Belfast. We are delighted to co-operate with Icelandair and Belfast City Airport, to maximise the promotion of this new flight. As an island destination, the importance of convenient flights cannot be overstated – they are absolutely critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism.”
Referring to the arrival of 3i, Mr Ambrose said it was “another important landmark in what has been an exciting period of expansion for the business”.
“We have a stellar airline portfolio, including blue-chip brands such as KLM, Flybe, British Airways and Aer Lingus, and we are confident of continuing to grow our route network and the profitability of the business in years to come.”