The fortunes of Northern Ireland’s aviation market are linked inextricably with those of its historic capital, Belfast, whose two airports account for more than 96 per cent of the country’s capacity share. The Spotlight on Northern Ireland white paper explores the unprecedented growth in air connectivity for the region.
It is unsurprising then that the country’s tourism renaissance has corresponded with impressive growth in both domestic and international capacity. Aided by the global popularity of Game of Thrones which is filmed at Titanic Studios, and Titanic Belfast which was recently named as the world’s top tourist attraction, the city’s tourism industry has blossomed over the past decade. It currently contributes around €600 million to the economy, a figure that Belfast aims to double by 2020.
The city’s aviation market has grown accordingly; domestic capacity, which accounts for the lion’s share, grew by 7 per cent in 2016. International capacity showed even stronger progress, rising by 17.5 per cent in the same year. This is a trend that Belfast’s airports and key stakeholders will be hoping continues, with transatlantic services provided by Icelandair and Norwegian set to take flight during 2017.
Against this backdrop it is the ideal time for Northern Ireland to host Routes Europe, which takes place from 23-25 April 2016. It will give the country the perfect opportunity to showcase its ongoing success and secure the further network growth required to build upon it.