The local economy seems set for a significant boost after Irish airline Ryanair announced it is to create a new base at Belfast International Airport from March.
The airline is to begin operating with flights to London Gatwick, with five further routes starting in October.
They claim this will deliver over 1m new customers p.a and support new jobs at the Airport.
The overall development is being described as the ideal response to the crippling economic news delivered late last year with the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
The four times daily Gatwick service will maintain the slots given up by Aer Lingus as part of the IAG takeover of that airline.
A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said they welcome the news as a clear vote of confidence in the Council area.
The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Council, Councillor Thomas Hogg, said: “We welcome today’s announcement as Belfast International Airport is a vital and valued enterprise in this area. This development will see in excess of one million additional passengers using the airport and that, in turn, will create investment opportunities and welcome additional employment.”
Councillor David Arthurs, Policy and Governance Committee Chairman, also stated: “Seven hundred and fifty new jobs involving very little public money is a wonderful start to 2016. Both the airport and Ryanair are to be congratulated. This is an unmistakable vote of confidence in the airport and this Council area, and we will do all we can to support this and future expansion at Northern Ireland’s principal ‘gateway’.”
Belfast International Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, said: “This is a most welcome announcement. The jobs and investment are considerable and amount to a valuable inward investment at low or no cost to the taxpayer.
“The full range of destinations to be served by Ryanair will be revealed later in the year, but from an airport perspective, the potential to add more than one million additional passengers will have a dramatic effect on our business.
“We already offer great choice to passengers through our established airlines, and Ryanair will reinforce that offer. Ryanair’s return to Belfast is good news for the region. It will enhance the overall Belfast-London Gatwick service and establish it as the leading and most important London ‘gateway’ from Northern Ireland, eclipsing Heathrow in terms of frequency of service and seat capacity.”
Aldergrove DUP Councillor Matthew Magill said: “I am delighted that within the first week of this new year, already major investment and job creation of some 750 new posts is being announced within Antrim and Newtownabbey by one of our biggest employers. This jobs announcement will be of great benefit to local people, especially following the closure of several leading employers in the Antrim area over recent years. This expansion is a vote of confidence, not only in the offering of our Borough but in the whole of Northern Ireland and must be welcomed.”
“It is vital for both Tourism and our Economy as a whole, that Belfast International competes with Dublin Airport and I congratulate them on closing this deal with Ryanair which will be of huge benefit to businessman and tourist alike. Aldergrove is definitely open for business as we enter 2016 and I look forward to more announcements of business growth and job creation in Antrim and Newtownabbey in the future.”