Heathrow airport expansion 'could create 5,000 jobs in Ireland'
Heathrow could create up to 5,000 new jobs in Northern Ireland if an expansion bid gets the go-ahead, the London airport's chief executive has claimed.
John Holland-Kaye said air links with Belfast International Airport could also be restored if the London hub is permitted to build a third runway.
In July last year the Airports Commission recommended that the runway should be built at Heathrow alongside a "significant" package of measures to make its expansion more acceptable to nearby residents. A final decision has not been taken by the Government.
Mr Holland-Kaye told a Belfast business audience: "We cannot be the generation that avoids the big decisions, that pulls the ladder up behind us. We need to make the right choices in our generation so that the next generation, our children, can enjoy the benefits we have enjoyed.
"With Heathrow expansion we will create up to 5,000 new jobs here in Northern Ireland while we build and when we have built - providing opportunities for young people.
"We can grow the number of airports in Northern Ireland connected to Heathrow - with flights to Aldergrove."
Mr Holland-Kaye has already announced plans to end night flights in an attempt to support Heathrow's offer to build another runway.
British Airways and Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus already connect George Best Belfast City Airport with Heathrow. Aer Lingus left the International Airport for Belfast City in 2012.
Mr Holland-Kaye addressed the CBI in Northern Ireland's annual dinner in Belfast.
"We can bring in new airlines, meaning new competition and choice, higher frequencies and lower fares.
"We can grow your competitive advantage further. More flights to more cities in China, and Asia, the Americas and Africa - the growing markets of the world.
"Let us give you the ability to get to the world and for the world to come to you."