Emerald Airlines, operator of Aer Lingus Regional’s route network, is to open a base at Belfast City airport and launch services to several cities in England and Scotland.
The carrier aims to operate high-frequency routes from Belfast to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford and Manchester.
Chief executive Conor McCarthy said: “There is a huge opportunity for Emerald Airlines here.
“We’re eager to build upon our announcement… with new flights and destinations to follow in the near future.
“We are in advanced talks with British Airways and Aer Lingus regarding code sharing and other cooperation so that we can maintain the continuity and benefits of the current services offered by both airlines at Belfast City Airport.”
All routes will be operated under an exclusive franchise agreement as Aer Lingus Regional with customers having the added benefit of a codeshare with British Airways and are able to earn Avios rewards on all flights.
Matthew Hall, chief executive of Belfast City airport, said: “We are very pleased to secure a long-term partnership with Emerald Airlines that will see the return of the Aer Lingus Regional product to Belfast later this year.
“Emerald’s commitment to Northern Ireland will ensure not only the continuity of these regional routes that have been operated by mainline Aer Lingus and British Airways since last summer 2021, but also presents a significant opportunity for new routes and additional frequency.”
Mainline Aer Lingus and British Airways services to Heathrow and London City from Belfast City remain unchanged.
All flights will be operated by the ATR72-600.
Last month, Emerald Airlines announced it will start regional flights between the UK and Ireland from March 17 under a franchise agreement with Aer Lingus.