A HAMPSHIRE-based air traffic controller has signed a multi-million-pound deal with an Irish airport.

Swanwick-based NATS is teaming up with Belfast International Airport to provide air traffic control and engineering services for the next nine years.

NATS, which manages air traffic services at 13 other UK airports, will now take responsibility for the safety and efficiency of the airport’s 47,000 annual arrivals and departures.

The airport has witnessed record passenger growth over recent years, with more than 5.4 million people passing through the terminal in 2016, an increase on the 4.3 million in 2012.

Under the contract, NATS will introduce electronic flight strips which will allow air traffic controllers to see all the relevant information about a specific aircraft, what it’s doing and where it’s going on an electronic database which will subsequently reduce the controllers’ workload and increases capacity.

Michael Cockcroft, NATS general manager at Belfast International said: “Our relationship with Belfast International is an important one for NATS and I am delighted that we are to continue working together, closer than ever before.”