Northern Ireland

Berlin and Milan among new Ryanair routes from Belfast International

Ryanair plane Image copyright PA
Image caption Ryanair is set to begin operating a new base at Belfast International Airport from later this month

Ryanair has announced Berlin and Milan will be among new routes operating from its hub at Belfast International Airport.

Neither of the destinations has been served from Northern Ireland for a number of years.

Speaking in Belfast, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary also announced five other European routes would run from Aldergrove later this year.

They are Malaga, Alicante, Krakow, Tenerife and Lanzorote.

The airline had previously announced the hub would open later this month with services to Gatwick.

Belfast International chief executive Graham Keddie said the Berlin route "fulfils a major ambition".

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Media captionMichael O'Leary announced the new routes in Belfast

The Northern Ireland tourism sector has been pushing for a direct link because of the growth potential for visitors from Germany.

Mr Keddie added: "This new route network comes at no cost to the taxpayer or support from the government."

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said the Ryanair announcement is "fantastic news," adding some of the routes will help Northern Ireland grow tourism.

He also remained hopeful about establishing an air route development fund to help expansion at Northern Ireland airports.

"There is a pot of money I am looking at and I hope to announce our plans before the end of this financial year," he said.

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