George Best Belfast City Airport commenced its first direct European services yesterday with a scheduled flight to and from Amsterdam – the first of seven new European routes to be operated by bmibaby, with Geneva beginning in December and Malaga, Faro, Alicante, Palma, Ibiza starting in 2012.
After greeting the first passenger, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: “The commencement of bmibaby European services is great news for both visitors and business travellers. I believe it will help stimulate further growth between Northern Ireland and Europe, making it even easier for people to come here on business or on holiday.
“The range of flights on offer, frequency and value help to ensure we can connect with visitors. We are expecting 2012 to be a successful year for tourism, with a whole host of fantastic events lined up, including the completion the Giants Causeway Visitors’ Centre and the opening of Titanic Belfast.
“There has never been a better time to show potential tourists around the world why they should put Northern Ireland at the top of their ‘must see’ list.”
Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive at Belfast City Airport, said: “It has long been our publicly stated ambition to offer direct European services and we are delighted to welcome our first European visitors courtesy of our partner, bmibaby.
“A private investment of £15 million by our shareholders in the past four years has delivered a terminal and facilities that are the envy of many and a gateway that Northern Ireland can be justifiably proud. We will continue to invest in enhancing the customer experience and look forward to welcoming the many tourists from across Europe over the coming years.”
Julian Carr, Managing Director, bmibaby, said: “Today is a really exciting milestone for bmibaby and Belfast City Airport, as we launch the inaugural European flight to Amsterdam. This demonstrates how committed we are to flying from Northern Ireland, and we are proud to offer people even more choice plus great bmibaby service and low fares with our European routes.
“Our Geneva service launches in December and also five Mediterranean routes next year, so getting away for a sunshine, ski or city break is more accessible from Northern Ireland.
“Bmibaby is running a daily flight (except for Saturdays) on the Amsterdam route. Geneva will be twice weekly, while the Mediterranean flights in 2012 will vary in frequency.”