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First Aer Lingus flights take off from Aldergrove airport
Belfast International Airport fire service wish the first Aer Lingus flight to Barcelona a fond farewell with water arches Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment Permanent Secretary Stephen Quinn greets the first passengers to arrive on the inaugural Aer Lingus flight from Amsterdam. He is pictured with Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion and Belfast International Managing Director John Doran

Belfast International Airport fire service wish the first Aer Lingus flight to Barcelona a fond farewell with water arches

Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment Permanent Secretary Stephen Quinn greets the first passengers to arrive on the inaugural Aer Lingus flight from Amsterdam. He is pictured with Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion and Belfast International Managing Director John Doran

THE first Aer Lingus flights from Belfast International Airport at Aldergrove took off on Monday putting the seal on a 100 million investment announced in August.

The first destinations served were Amsterdam and Barcelona. A Geneva service began on Tuesday and flights to Budapest, Malaga, Rome, Faro and Nice are due to begin before the spring.

The Irish flag carrier's arrival at Aldergrove will also see the re-introduction of flights to London Heathrow on Monday January 14. This will allow local travellers to link up with the global British Airways network through a codeshare arrangement between by the airlines.

Aer Lingus will base three A320 aircraft at Aldergrove which it said will support up to 100 direct jobs as well as around 500 indirect posts in the first year.

It expects to carry more than half-a-million passengers in its initial 12 months of operations at Belfast and its Chief Executive Dermot Mannion said Monday marked "a new era in flying both for the people of Northern Ireland and Aer Lingus.

"Our investment in three aircraft and 100 jobs in our first base outside the Republic signals our firm intent to develop new markets as the company continues to grow and serve an expanding route network,' he continued.

"We are committed to delivering a combination of low fares and high-value service, something we believe the people of Northern Ireland, and indeed those living in the northern half of this island, will appreciate."

Mr. Mannion also announced Aer Lingus's Operations Director Dick Butler has been appointed Base Manager at Aldergrove. "He will work alongside our new Sales

Manager Ireland, Valerie Ward, completing an exciting team ready to tackle what is a challenging marketplace," the Chief Executive added.

"We believe we have the right mix of routes and fares, all available at www.aerlingus.com, that will appeal to the Northern Ireland traveller and we look forward to welcoming them on board."

neil.greenlees@jpress.co.uk

Ulster Star
14/12/2007