Ryanair to pull out of Belfast City Airport at end of October
Date added: September 1, 2010
Ryanair to pull out of Belfast City Airport
Ryanair is pulling out of Belfast City Airport from 31 October, the airline has announced.
Passengers are advised to check with Ryanair for bookings made after the date.
The airline said the decision followed the airport’s confirmation that a public inquiry into a planned runway extension would be further delayed.
Ryanair has been operating from George Best Belfast City Airport since 2007.
The airline currently flies from the City Airport to five locations in the UK – Bristol, the East Midlands, Prestwick, Liverpool and London.
The airline flies about 800,000 passengers a year from the airport.
Ryanair’s Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said that “it is very disappointing that the promised runway extension at Belfast City Airport has still not materialised more than three years after we opened the base at Belfast City”.
Mr O’Leary added that “in these circumstances, sadly, we have better alternative airports elsewhere in the UK and Europe, all of whom are willing and able to provide us with the runway infrastructure and low-cost facilities we need”.
He also said if permission was granted in the future, then Ryanair would come back.
The company said that from November, Ryanair will switch its one Belfast City-based aircraft to another European airport, with the loss of 50 Ryanair jobs.
It said that all staff will be offered relocation elsewhere in the UK or Europe.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said restrictions at Belfast City Airport had been a factor in the decision
On Tuesday, Katy Best, business development director at George Best Belfast City Airport, said that “we are obviously disappointed at Ryanair’s decision; the airline had provided five successful routes from Belfast City Airport”.
“However, passenger figures had proved that there was significant demand for the routes operated by Ryanair and I am confident that we can attract other airlines to fill the void,” she said.
Northern Ireland Planning Minister Edwin Poots, who referred the runway extension to a public inquiry, said he was disappointed. He added the airline could have operated international flights from Belfast International Airport.
“There has been an economic downturn and as a consequence airline companies are cutting their cloth,” he said. “Northern Ireland unfortunately has failed to meet requirements for Ryanair.”
Liz Fawcett, spokeswoman for Belfast City Airport Watch, which opposes the runway extension, said: “Residents are very pleased. “They had a particularly unpopular 6.30am flight and certainly this will give some respite.”
Ryanair is Europe’s largest low-cost airline. Its operations from Derry City airport are not affected by Tuesday’s decision. Belfast City Airport has wanted to build a runway extension for some time.
BBC NI business correspondent Kevin Magee said this would have allowed Ryanair to fly to destinations much further afield. “But the extension proposal is now tied up into the planning process. Earlier this month, the Planning Appeals Commission delayed a planned public inquiry into the proposed extension until further information is provided by the airport. The objections to the extension centre on environmental, social and economic concerns,” said our correspondent.
Campaigners say move highlights need for NI aviation strategy
Local residents have given a cautious welcome to Ryanair’s decision to pull out of George Best Belfast City Airport, at least temporarily.
But the residents’ umbrella group, Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW), is questioning the real motives for the move and says it highlights the need for a proper local aviation strategy.
“Ryanair thought it could come in and dictate airport policy in Northern Ireland, and we’re really glad they’ve discovered they can’t,” said Dr Liz Fawcett, Chair of the BCAW Steering Group.
“But – while we welcome the move – the City Airport will now be busy enticing airlines such as easyJet to bring more routes to the airport, so any respite from noise for residents is likely to be short-lived.”
However, the group says Ryanair’s true reasons for making this move should be scrutinised.
“At a time of recession which has hit Northern Ireland particularly badly, low-cost airlines obviously face a real challenge in attracting sufficient passengers to make their routes profitable,” said Dr Fawcett.
“We suspect that the recession is at least as significant a factor in this decision as the proposed runway extension.
“Moreover, it was open to Ryanair to move its operations to Belfast International Airport – which has plenty of spare capacity – at any time.”
BCAW has already called on the Northern Ireland Executive to develop a proper strategy for the region’s airports.
“Quite apart from the fact that tens of thousands of residents will suffer if the runway extension goes ahead, any further expansion would be at the expense of Belfast International Airport,” said Dr Fawcett.
“We believe our politicians must make it a priority to sit down and produce a proper strategy for the development of airports in Northern Ireland – one which ensures City doesn’t just duplicate what International already provides, and one which takes into account the health and well-being of local residents.”
BCAW opposes the runway extension proposal because an extended runway would enable planes to carry larger loads of passengers and fuel, leading to heavier aircraft and greater levels of noise. The proposal would also enable
the airport to greatly expand its operations.
Both these points were supported by a report by the Civil Aviation Authority which was commissioned by the Planning Service.
That report – which came to light last March – stated that, in terms of the proposed runway length alone, it would be possible to operate larger aircraft from the extended runway, possibly with some adaptations to ground infrastructure.
Last year, BCAW carried out a survey of more than 400 individuals in areas in east and south Belfast, and in north Down, affected by aircraft noise from the City Airport.
The shock findings from this survey demonstrated the extent to which aircraft noise is already a very real problem for many residents:
· More than three-quarters (78%) of the 412 individuals surveyed said that aircraft noise affected their sleep
· Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they often had to stop talking when a plane flew over because they couldn’t be heard
· Of the 157 respondents with children, nearly half (46%) said theirchildren weren’t getting enough sleep because of aircraft noise.
· More than a third (34%) of those with children said their children found aircraft noise frightening.
1. Belfast City AirportWatch comprises sixteen residents’ and community groups across affected areas within east and south Belfast, and north Down. For more information on the campaign, visit:
2. The Airport’s Planning Agreement is an agreement between the Department of the Environment and the Airport. The current Agreement came into force on 14th October 2008.
3. For further information and interviews, please contact Liz Fawcett on 028 9020 0811 or 0771 943 5662.
Failure to extend Belfast City runway “clips Ryanair’s wings”
Date Added: 1st September 2010
Ryanair had hoped to carry huge numbers of passengers to and from Belfast City airport, but wanted the runway extended. The application to extend the runway by 590 metres in the direction of Belfast Lough is awaiting an inquiry and has been delayed for years. Ryanair claims it is having to pull out of the airport because of the short runway. The real reason is likely to be that its northern Ireland operations were not making money, and cuts were due this winter. Click here to view full story…
comments from AirportWatch members:
Interesting points from this:
1). there will be less passengers at Bristol, EMA, Glasgow, Liverpool and “London” (not sure which one that is, presumably Stansted)
2). loss of this one (based) plane will remove 50 jobs, and a total of 800,000 passengers per year (not all on that based plane). So this works out as 62.5 jobs per million passengers – somewhat lower than the 1,000 jobs they have previously claimed when adding routes. Total employment at Ryanair was 99 per mppa in 2003 – data attributed to CAA.
3). Ryanair is pulling out as the timing is right for the usual winter timetable withdrawals and influencing a public inquiry.