15/10/2009

Airline To Make 'Easymove' To City

Two so-called low-cost airlines are set to go head-to-head next year with news that Easyjet is to move one of its busiest routes from Belfast International Airport to the George Best Belfast City Airport.

The orange and white brightly-liveried planes will operate a twice-daily service to London Luton from 7the January next year.

A statement from Easyjet said if the move was successful they would consider "additional routes over time" from the city site.

However, it went on to say that the bulk of the company's operations would remain at Belfast International Airport.

"We want to see if our passengers flying on selected shorter routes would prefer to fly via Belfast City Airport," said Paul Simmons, Regional General Manager for Easyjet, told the BBC today.

"The only way to actually do this properly is to run a route from there.

"We will take our time in assessing the passenger feedback and then take a view on how best to configure our operations between the two airports in the longer term".

George Best Belfast City Airport Chief Executive Brian Ambrose said he was delighted Easyjet had selected Luton as its first route for the airport.

He said: "I am certain that the continuing private investment by our owners in the airport's infrastructure, aimed at enhancing the customer experience, will appeal to Easyjet passengers.

"The arrival of another premier airline to Belfast City will be welcome news for our growing customer base."
News Image
Ryanair is already operating a London service from the east Belfast facility - via Stansted - and will be in direct competition with easyjet on the lucrative London-Belfast route.

There is continued controversy over plans to extend the runway at the airport, a move that is being bitterly opposed by local residsents who have called for a full public inquiry.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has said that he is "fairly satisfied" the Northern Ireland Planning Service will approve the proposal for a longer runway at the facility.

Speaking on a BBC Spotlight programme earlier this year, the budget airline's Chief Executive related that he believes the runway will be extended, despite growing opposition to the move.

Responding to the announcement, Belfast City Airport Watch spokesperson, Fiona McKinley, said: "We're very concerned that this move by easyJet is a further step towards the day when Belfast will have a huge international airport right on its doorstep, creating an intolerable problem for the tens of thousands of local residents who already suffer from aircraft noise.

"easyJet is a highly competitive, low-cost carrier which, like Ryanair, relies on attracting large volumes of passengers.

"This move only adds to the case for the Minister to reject outright City Airport's runway extension proposals or, at the very least, to hold a public inquiry.

"We would also question whether, if easyJet does go ahead with further services, the airport can adhere to the 'seats for sale' limit on passenger numbers stipulated by its Planning Agreement with the Department of the Environment."

See: Ryanair Boss 'Rejects' Belfast City Runway Inquiry

(BMcC/GK)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 April 2011
City Airport's Holiday Routes Opposed
Seven new routes to holiday destinations in continental Europe are to operate from George Best Belfast City Airport - thanks to boosted aircraft engines. Bmibaby will run services to Malaga, Alicante, Palma, Faro, Ibiza, Amsterdam and Geneva.
06 February 2003
bmi to concentrate services at Belfast City
bmi has announced that it is to discontinue its Heathrow service from Belfast International Airport (BIA) and concentrate resources in Belfast City Airport. However, bmi will maintain a presence at BAI as bmibaby will be including Belfast International as a destination to be served from a new UK base to be announced shortly.
05 October 2001
British Midland step in to serve Heathrow
British Midland has announced that the airline will fly to London Heathrow from both Belfast City Airport and from Belfast International Airport.
06 April 2011
Easyjet Takes Off For Manchester
Budget carrier easyJet will launch new flights from Belfast International Airport to Manchester this autumn. From 30 October, the airline's new flights will take off twice-daily will depart out of Belfast on Monday to Friday at 7.10am and 8.25pm, Saturday at 8.15am and 7.30pm and Sunday at 7.40am and 7.15pm.
11 November 2009
Airport's Extra Passenger Bid Slammed
Residents have reacted angrily to reports that George Best Belfast City Airport is trying to get a cap on its passenger numbers lifted. A spokeswoman said this week that the airport's management has written to the Stormont Environment Minister, Edwin Poots, to request that the current limit of two million 'seats for sale' be removed.