Belfast International Airport's annual passenger growth continues
Belfast International Airport finished 2016 by achieving a passenger growth rate of 17.2%.
In real terms, 5.15 million passengers passed through the airport, helped by a December performance that saw record growth of more than 33%.
The airport has achieved monthly double-digit growth since July last year.
Belfast International Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, said 2016 was a huge success with further advances likely this year.
Mr Keddie said: “Our passenger numbers in 2016 were excellent. This year, we expect to set a new record of somewhere in the region of 5.4 million, which will surpass the last best performance in 2007 by about 100,000.
“Even though we will shortly lose the United flight to the United States, we will not be deflected from our growth curve. Of course, our airlines are instrumental in delivering the welcome boost with increased capacity and frequency and exciting new routes to Germany, Italy and Poland.
“United leaves a gap that we are working hard with government to fill and we are pursuing a number of positive leads.
“As a region, Northern Ireland has to have direct access to the USA which will underpin the inward investment drive. We have the prospect of reduced Corporation Tax to look forward to next year but its impact could be blunted if we don’t have direct, point-to-point access for potential inward investors to Northern Ireland.
“Canada, too, is an important business and tourism market and we have no doubt that Northern Ireland could sustain a Canadian service. We did so in the past, and there are even stronger grounds for believing we could do the same again.
“There’s a lot happening at the airport. Businesses based at the site are expanding and in recruitment mode. More growth means more job opportunities and we see that situation continuing this year.”