The Government recognises that air connectivity between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is of the utmost importance given its geographical circumstances. There were over 1.5 million passenger journeys between Belfast Airports and Gatwick and Heathrow Airports in 2016. We expect this demand to continue, given that Northern Ireland is a competitive destination in its own right.
The Government does not frequently consult with British Airways or Aer Lingus about flights between Northern Ireland and London. We believe that air passengers are best served by a commercial airline market which is able to operate in a competitive environment. This allows airlines to determine the routes that they operate, and from which airports, based on their assessment of routes’ viability.
The Government is considering the issue of regional connectivity across the UK as part of developing its future aviation strategy.