Aer Lingus has announced plans to set up a new regional base at Belfast City airport offering six UK routes, some of which were left vacant by the demise of Flybe earlier this year.
Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus Regional, will deploy five ATR72-600 aircraft at the airport, flying to Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford and Exeter.
Edinburgh flights will get under way on 27 August. Flights to Exeter will start on 28 August, with Manchester and Birmingham following on 14 September. Services to East Midlands and Leeds Bradford will launch on 1 October.
Stobart plans to operate more than 200 weekly flights to and from Belfast City, offering "convenient flight times" to ensure "essential connectivity" between Northern Ireland and the UK.
It already operates a number of Aer Lingus Regional routes from bases in Dublin and Cork.
Aer Lingus chief commercial officer David Shepherd said the move would make Aer Lingus and Aer Lingus Regional "the largest operator" at Belfast City, which was severely impacted by the collapse of UK regional carrier Flybe.
Stobart Air managing director Andy Jolly added: “High frequency day-return flights from Belfast City Airport to key cities across the UK will facilitate business and leisure travellers."
Flights will be operated according to Covid flying guidelines set out by the European Aviation Safety Agency, World Health Organization and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
These include enhanced onboard cleaning and disinfection, mandatory face coverings or masks for passengers and crew, no in-flight service, and new boarding and disembarkation procedures to promote social distancing and reduce interactions.