A LOW-COST airline says it is giving the North East a £7m boost by launching flights to Norway.
Ryanair will start flying from Newcastle to Oslo three times a week from May.
As well as offering a new destination to business and leisure travellers, the announcement means 16,000 Norwegians will be jetting into Tyneside every year.
The high-spending Scandinavians are said to be attracted by the region’s retail offering, including a revamped Eldon Square and the Metro Centre.
And based on the estimated average amount each individual would spend, our economy could benefit to the tune of more than £7m. Ryanair’s UK sales and marketing executive Laura McCormack said: "We are delighted to be offering this new service from Newcastle to Oslo.
"It will provide a good connection with Scandinavia and we are confident it will do well.
"Passengers travelling from Norway are known to be high-spenders and we also know they will be attracted by the fantastic shopping on offer in the Newcastle area."
The new flights will go to Oslo-Rygge, about 30 miles south of the city.
They will start running on May 19 and operate three times a week with fares from £23.99 one way, including taxes.
Newcastle International chief executive David Laws said: "We are delighted with the announcement of the new flights to Scandinavia with Ryanair.
"We are confident that Ryanair’s new low cost service to Oslo will prove very popular with travelers from Norway and the UK. Norway now becomes even easier and cheaper to reach by air from our region and is a fantastic country to visit for both holidays or on business.
"The North East stands to benefit from a very significant increase from tourism and inbound business."
Ryanair has also announced it is re-starting its service to Girona Airport, Barcelona from March 28.
There will be three flights a week to the popular Spanish destination.
The announcements come amid the Journal’s A Tax Too Far campaign, which is calling for planned hikes to Air Passenger Duty (APD) to be scrapped. The aviation tax went up last November and is set to rise again, which it is feared will lead to airlines having to cancel existing routes.
Ms McCormack said: "We are announcing this new route despite Gordon Brown’s tourist tax and we call on the Government to scrap it."