Flights to Belfast have been axed for the first quarter of 2024.

The service is provided by two airlines – Emerald Airlines (Aer Lingus) which flies to Belfast City Airport and easyJet which flies to Belfast International Airport.

For some time, Emerald Airlines has had a gap in its schedule between January 8 and March 7.

But while easyJet originally had flights scheduled in the first quarter of 2024, it is understood that due to reduced passenger demand, the airline took a decision to cease services from January 1 to April 1.

That is according to Enterprise Minister, Tim Johnston, who was asked about the matter by Douglas North MHK, John Wannenburgh.

He was asked what analysis has been done of the potential loss to the Manx economy from the cessation of flights to both Belfast airports in the first quarter of 2024; what is being done to mitigate the loss, and whether his Department knew of the cessations before they were announced.

In his written response, Mr Johnston said: ‘The Department was not aware of easyJet’s decision to remove flights to Belfast International during the first quarter of 2024 in advance of the announcement, however, it is more generally aware that airlines constantly review their schedules and demand profiles and will make commercial decisions based on their own assessment.’

He added: ‘The Department has not undertaken any formal analysis of the potential loss to the economy and whilst any such impact is likely to be minimal given the low demand leading to the reduction in scheduled flights, it is appreciated that the loss of regional connectivity is never welcome.

‘During the period in question, flights to and from the island of Ireland continue to be available six days a week through Emerald Airlines service to Dublin with direct flights to Belfast scheduled to recommence on March 7.’

On the Steam Packet’s website, there is a ferry service to Belfast on December 31 this year, but the next ferry to Belfast is not until the end of March.

However, this is not unusual.

It was announced earlier this year that there are no plans for Manxman to sail to Dublin, although it is not a regular port for the Steam Packet.