Belfast International Airport added to its ‘basket’ of destinations with the start of Wizz Air’s direct flights to Europe’s basketball capital, Vilnius Lithuania.
The Lithuanian Honorary Consul, Bill Sinnerton, says that the flights are a ‘lifeline’ for the 20,000 Lithuanians who have made Northern Ireland their home.
Mr Sinnerton says the route, starting this week (Wednesday) will benefit both families and business people exploring new business opportunities in the Baltic state.
Last month, Wizz Air, which is the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, commenced a direct service to Katowice in Poland. The airline will operate a twice weekly service to both cities with fares starting as low as £39.99**.
Wizz Air last year carried almost 16 million passengers, up 18% on the previous year, and operates a network of 380 routes from 21 bases.
Mr Sinnerton said: “This service to the capital city will be a lifeline for the 20,000 Lithuanians and their families. It will mean affordable direct flights both for them and their relatives who wish to visit them in Northern Ireland.
“As the Minister for Finance, Simon Hamilton, said recently, increased air connectivity has the potential for significant economic benefits. It will help boost trade and there’s no doubt that tourism will greatly benefit.”
Wizz Air’s Daniel de Carvalho said: “Vilnius is an incredibly beautiful city with one of the largest surviving medieval quarters in Europe which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage site. The architecture is stunning but there are also many other attractions to visit and plenty of things to do.”
Belfast International Airport, Graham Keddie, said: “Vilnius will be a hugely popular destination, but it works both ways. We want to develop trade links with Lithuania, and now we can access the market direct from Belfast International and that has to tick a box as we strive to become more export-focused. We will be working alongside Wizz to ‘sell’ Northern Ireland to drive up visitor numbers and boost local tourism.”