13/04/2011

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.

However, Dr Liz Fawcett, the Chair of the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group, said residents are angry that politicians are allowing the City Airport to be turned into an international airport.

"It's completely inappropriate for an airport on the doorstep of major residential areas to be permitted to become an international airport when we already have an international airport on a virtual greenfield site just up the road," she said.

"This move has been made in the absence of any robust and properly enforced noise controls.

"The Northern Ireland Executive - and in particular the Environment Minister - have singularly failed to tackle the issue of noise which affects tens of thousands of local residents," she said today.

There has long been a problem with larger aircraft at the City Airport, but the airline said it would run its engines on a different thrust setting to enable them to take off from the east Belfast facility.

Other operators have previously insisted they could not fly to Europe from the City Airport until a much-delayed application to extend the runway was given the go-ahead.

The controversial planning application is due to go before a public inquiry.
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The move will mean that the airline will base two additional aircraft at Belfast City Airport with the new flights on sale today for summer 2012, plus a new year round service to Amsterdam and new flights to Geneva for winter 2011.

Julian Carr, Managing Director, bmibaby, (pictured, right, with Brian Ambrose, the airport's Chief Executive) said: "We are committed to flying from Northern Ireland and will base two additional aircraft at Belfast City Airport in order to offer a more comprehensive flying programme.

"bmibaby will be the only low cost airline to operate the new routes directly from Belfast City Airport and this will make getting away for a sunshine, ski or city break more accessible from Northern Ireland.

"The new routes build on our recent launch of the Belfast City to Stansted service, and the relocation from Belfast International Airport to Belfast City Airport.

"Our new European flights perfectly complement our existing offering and bmi's strategically important Heathrow service," he said.

Welcoming the bmibaby decision, the Chief Executive of George Best Belfast City Airport said: "This is the most significant announcement in Belfast City Airport's recent history and is a welcome reward to all the staff who work tirelessly to make this airport world class.

"Direct European routes have long been an ambition of this airport and we believe strongly that our growing customer base throughout Northern Ireland will avail of the bmibaby services," said Brian Ambrose.

(BMcC/GK)

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