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Call for NI Executive to adapt English approach to air travel

Hospitality Ulster and the Belfast Chamber of Commerce have called on the Northern Ireland Executive to allow airports here to open fully in a safe and controlled way to save the industry and protect connectivity.

Both groups have said this is vital to the wider Northern Ireland economy.

They have called for a similar approach to the 14 day quarantine measures in regard to air bridges with 53 countries which have already been implemented in England as a means of assisting airports in the fight for survival.

The call comes ahead of a meeting on Thursday of the Executive when Ministers are expected to review international travel regulations.

In a joint statement, Colin Neill Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster and Simon Hamilton, Chief Executive of Belfast Chamber of Commerce said: “Connectivity is vital to our economic success and will be intrinsic to our post Covid recovery in the weeks and months ahead. As other countries begin to open up again in a safe and controlled way, we need our Ministers to open up these crucial travel links which will give business a fighting chance.”

“The past few months have been challenging for everyone but as restrictions are eased it is time now to get back to some sense of normality – allowing our airports to operate fuller services, with more airplanes in the sky, will go some way in this regard. EasyJet have already begun opening up a number of flights to and from mainland Europe from Belfast International Airport with further routes expected next month. This is a positive development but we need to see more airlines and schedules back and fully operational.”

“Our airports are the lifeblood of industry. Regional connectivity is crucial, and it is important that these routes are restored to full capacity also. Great Britain is our largest tourism market and without that regional connectivity, our sectors will take a real hammering.”