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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.”


Graham Keddie, Managing Director of Belfast International Airport, said: “This initiative is to be warmly welcomed by all in the aviation sector as it will provide much needed support to our airlines that have been devastated by the impact of Covid.

“We have been working with the Minister, his predecessor and the Department for many months in the development of the NIDAKS scheme, along with the airlines, and we know it will have a positive impact in rebuilding our airlines and connectivity to the rest of the world.

“This announcement demonstrates the value of having a local Executive in place that listens to and engages with the business community. NIDAKS will help keep us connected, it will help families and businesses keep connected and it will help rebuild our economy.”

Steve Frazer, Managing Director of City of Derry Airport, said: “I am pleased that NI Executive Ministers have provided a further catalyst for the recovery of NI’s economy in the form of the NIDAKS. We look forward to positive outcomes from the support and will continue to engage with the Economy Minister and his Department regarding connectivity to the North West.”

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 [email protected]