The UK Government has made a £5.7 million investment to protect passenger flights between the UK and Northern Ireland.

The announcement, by Transport Minister Grant Shapps, will protect key air links across the unions and safeguard vital routes for critical workers, ensuring that those who need to travel are able to do so. The Government has also announced funding to support ferry freight services across the UK.

Package will support airlines and airports

The package is being funded by the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive and will temporarily support airlines and airports, allowing them to continue running air passenger services along two routes from Belfast City, and City of Derry, to London during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The package will maintain two lifeline passenger services – Derry-Londonderry to London and Belfast to London. IAG Group (Aer Lingus) will maintain the Belfast to London route, which would be at risk without financial assistance given low passenger numbers. Belfast City Airport will provide airport services for the flight to and from London.

The Government is to increase subsidies to Loganair to continue operating the City of Derry Airport (LDY) to London route and will provide support for City of Derry Airport to continue to provide airport services for the route.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Maintaining air links between Great Britain and Northern Ireland is vital. We must ensure that critical workers can continue to fly over the Irish Sea, and today’s investment in these lifeline services guarantees that.”

“Crucial services will be safeguarded”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis MP said: “Today’s announcement is great news for people and businesses in Northern Ireland, it means that crucial air services to and from London, Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport will be safeguarded, thanks to this multi-million pound Government support package.”

“Alongside the recent £17 million support package the UK Government announced to ensure essential ferry routes were maintained – this additional commitment to safeguard the connectivity of the entire United Kingdom will guarantee the continued supply of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies and ensure key workers are able to carry out their roles.

“The UK Government has promised to do everything in its power to defeat coronavirus and to protect people, jobs and livelihoods across the United Kingdom. As part of our efforts, we have been working closely with the Northern Ireland Executive and the Department for the Economy to deliver this new air connectivity support package and we will continue to work closely with them in the weeks and months ahead as we tackle this pandemic.”