Belfast City airport chief executive Brian Ambrose is confident that the facility's new owner 3i is planning to invest in the gateway for the long term.
Speaking to FlightGlobal at the World Routes conference in Barcelona 25 September, Ambrose said he'd had a meeting with the London-based investment firm earlier this month at which it approved capex plans and a five-year route development strategy.
"The positives we picked up is that they are a fund that holds for the long term so we expect in 15-20 years' time they will still own the asset," he says. "They are a fund that has money so if we have a good business idea they have the money to support it."
Venture capital firm 3i took ownership of Belfast City in June after its acquisition was approved by European regulators.
Ambrose says the city's downtown airport will now proceed with a strategy of "profitable growth" but at a steady pace of one to two routes added per year which he says is "more attractive to us than some highly speculative venture".
That pace, he says, "would take the business in the next few years through the three-million-passenger mark, if we've outlined the kind of capital investment we would need to support that growth, and that's all been signed off".
The two big capital projects next year will be a 25% expansion of the airport's retail space and adding new equipment in the central passenger security search area.
Ambrose says the gateway is keen to add new services to London and develop new city-pair routes within Europe.