Travel expert Simon Calder 'not entirely convinced' in transatlantic hub plans in Northern Ireland

Travel expert Simon Calder told UTV he is 'not entirely convinced' in a new low-cost airline's plans to create a transatlantic hub in Northern Ireland.

However he said he 'desperately hopes' Fly Atlantic's plans to offer transatlantic flights from Belfast International Airport are successful.

There are no direct flights currently operating between Belfast to North America.

Simon Calder told UTV: "There is certainly a market, of course, of hundreds of thousands of people I would estimate who would love to travel to Northern Ireland from north America and also a fair number who would like to travel in the opposite direction.

"Fly Atlantic's plan is mostly based upon Belfast being a hub, which would mean I would fly from Manchester, from Birmingham, from London, from Paris, from Amsterdam to Belfast and then connect there for a transatlantic flight.

"Now, whether that is going to work remains to be seen."

Describing the project as a "game-changer", the airline's chief executive Andrew Pyne said the company will be "offering affordable fares with brand new aircraft."

Simon Calder said: "They believe they can undercut the existing operations on both US airlines and, of course, Aer Lingus from Dublin Airport as well as Shannon.

"And that people will put up with the absence of pre-clearance, which is a wonderful thing for anybody heading to the US, if the price is right."

He added: "Of course, Northern Ireland has no air passenger duty so that's going to be a heck of a saving too."

Fly Atlantic is planning to start operating flights to Europe as well as North America from summer 2024.

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