A direct flight between Belfast and Dubai is still some way off, according to the boss of Emirates in Ireland.
But Enda Corneille told the Belfast Telegraph the number of passengers from Northern Ireland using its Dublin services has increased by around 25% in the last year.
And he said a multi-million pound bailout package to save the Belfast to New York route “tells a tale” about how international links perform here.
Speaking about bringing a regular route to Belfast International Airport, he said: “We were up a couple of months ago, and met with Invest NI. It’s an airport of interest to us, and in its favour there is an active business community.
“That shows a commitment.
“There are no plans for it at the moment. Never say never, but it’s not on the cards at the moment.”
And he said the model is “all or nothing”.
Emirates now runs a double-daily flight from Dublin to Dubai, and onwards to around 140 different locations.
Around 20% of flights finish in Dubai, with 80% going on to other destinations.
It now deals with 22,000 passengers a month and 1,500 tonnes of cargo. More info
By J. Mulgrew www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk