Frew announces £4.5m scheme to support NI’s air connectivity with GB

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George Best Belfast City Airport

24th Jun 2021

Economy Minister Paul Frew today announced a £4.5million initiative to support air connectivity between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

As part of the Minister’s Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP) the NI Domestic Aviation Kickstart Scheme (NIDAKS) will support airlines to help kickstart NI’s economic recovery from Covid by maintaining and enhancing NI’s domestic air connectivity between the three local airports and GB.

The Minister said: “Air connectivity between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is critical for our economy and never more so than now, as we focus on recovery.

“I am pleased to announce NIDAKS, which has three elements – maintaining a minimum route frequency on a core network of domestic routes, incentivising enhanced frequency on those routes above the minimum, and encouraging new routes which are economically important to NI.

“This improved connectivity will stimulate inbound tourism, as well as both inward and outward business travel. In turn we hope to see a positive impact on local hotels, restaurants and other hospitality and tourism businesses, as the sector here continues to get back on its feet.

“Furthermore, enhancing our links with Great Britain can only help make Northern Ireland even more attractive as a place to invest.”

The Minister added: “I am in no doubt that we still face significant challenges as we emerge from the pandemic, but I have confidence in what Northern Ireland has to offer in terms of both leisure and business and that we can start to attract visitors from the GB market to the extent we were in 2019.”

Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of George Best Belfast City Airport, said: “Throughout the pandemic, the Northern Ireland Executive recognised the importance of our airports as key infrastructure and provided welcome financial support so we could hit the ground running when the time was right.

“Today’s announcement provides much needed assistance to our partner airlines in establishing and maintaining key routes that are vital to the wellbeing of our economy.”

The NIDAKS will be administered by Invest Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy. The financial assistance is time bound between 1 June and 31 October 2021. More information is available by contacting