There was disappointment in Belfast last month  when United announced the end of its long-standing New York service.

United held the distinction of operating the city’s only regular long-haul service.

But today comes the news that Icelandair is stepping in to fill the gap.

However not everything in the garden is rosy.

Whereas United operated non-stop with a B757 jet out of Belfast International, Icelandair will roster a Bombardier Q400 turbo-prop from the city’s close-in Harbour airport.

And that’s not all. Icelandair will not be flying non-stop.

Instead it will mount a sixth-freedom operation (passengers carried by an airline of a third country but via its hub) with passengers offered connection via Reykjavik.

Icelandair hopes this new route will prove viable.

Why? Because it is spreading the risk. Icelandair is using a small turbo-prop from Belfast’s more convenient airport and, at Reykjavik, it will offer numerous  transatlantic connections to New York and beyond.

Icelandair tells Business Traveller that in 2017 it will be operating between Reykjavik and no fewer than 18 North American destinations with Philadelphia and Tampa being new.

Of course business and leisure travellers will also form part of the passenger mix.

Flights will operate three times a week every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday with a start date of June 1.

Departure is from Reykjavik at 0745 to reach Belfast Harbour at 1145.  The return service leaves Belfast Harbour at 1340 to arrive into Reykjavik at 1535.

Based on the current Icelandair schedules there are swift connections at Reykjavik for New York JFK and New York Newark.

Icelandair is known for its keen transatlantic pricing so we await details of pricing both to Reykjavik and North America.

In other news, United is cutting transatlantic capacity on routes other than Belfast. Today comes news that both the Hamburg-New York and Munich-Houston routes are being suspended from January. However flights might resume in time for the summer season.