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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 13:56 GMT
Airport renamed after George Best
George Best in his Man Utd playing days
George Best was born in east Belfast
Belfast City Airport is to be renamed in honour of George Best, it has been announced.

A ceremony at the east Belfast airport is planned for 22 May, with the new signage being unveiled on what would have been his 60th birthday.

The decision followed meetings with his father, Dickie, and close relatives.

The Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend died last November after suffering organ failure.

Airport chief executive Brian Ambrose said: "We believe that renaming the airport after George is a fitting and permanent tribute to his footballing brilliance."

George's sister Barbara McNarry said the family was "absolutely delighted" by the gesture.

Dickie Best unveils and image of George
George's father Dickie Best unveiled a plane bearing his son's image

"The family has been consulted at every turn in the naming of the airport and have been involved in all the meetings with Brian Ambrose," she said.

"We are so delighted they have pulled out all the stops in getting this done in time for George's 60th birthday."

It is estimated that 2.2 million passengers use the airport each year.

Since his death, there has been a wide-ranging debate on how to commemorate Best in his home city, with proposals considered including a statue of Best outside Belfast City Hall.

Earlier this year, snooker star Alex Higgins launched a campaign to call a referendum on removing the letters "lfa" from Belfast and rename it "Best" city. He has since dropped this plan.

Last week, airline Flybe named one of its aircraft in honour of George Best.

The aircraft has a picture of him in his Manchester United strip and will fly between Belfast and Manchester.

The renaming move follows a similar decision to rename Liverpool Airport after one of the city's most famous sons, John Lennon, in 2002.

The exact title of the airport will be announced at the ceremony on 22 May.


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