New briefings from Belfast City Airport Watch on noise and jobs at the airport

Two new briefings have just been produced by Belfast City Airport Watch.

George Best Belfast City Airport and noise  – the facts 

The number of people exposed to ‘significant’ levels of aircraft noise near George
Best Belfast City Airport has tripled over the past three years – and is now far
higher than at Gatwick or Stansted airports.

• Consultants’ reports commissioned by the airport show that 11,422 people now
suffer from a level of aircraft noise deemed by the UK government to cause “significant
community annoyance” – compared to just 3,522 in 2007 (measured as 57 LAeq or
over, averaged over 16 hours)

• A mere 1,500 people suffer from noise at the same level close to Stansted airport,
and just 3,600 experience this level of noise near Gatwick, according to figures
from the Department for Transport.

• The same consultants’ reports show that 23,810 people living near the City
Airport suffer aircraft noise at a higher level than that recommended by the World
Health Organisation (WHO) – compared to 12,084 in 2007. (This is the number who
experience noise at 54 LAeq or over, averaged over 16 hours – in fact, WHO recommends
a level no more than 50 LAeq but that level is not measured by the consultants’

• BCAW estimates that approximately 38,000 people in the Belfast City Council
area alone are affected by aircraft noise linked to the City Airport.

• Further information obtained by Belfast City Airport Watch (BCAW) also shows
that there was a 40% increase in the number of late flights at the airport last
year, compared to the previous year.

• There was a total of 503 late flights after 9.30pm last year – an average of
1.4 late flights per day – despite the fact that government regulations stipulate
that late flights should only occur “in exceptional circumstances”. This compares
to 359 late flights in 2009.

• Information provided to BCAW by the DOE shows that many flights are delayed
for routine reasons that could not possibly constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Belfast City Airport Watch

June 2011


1. The statistics on noise levels are taken from consultants’ reports commissioned
by the airport and made available to the Airport Forum. The statistics on late
flights were provided by the airport to the Airport Forum.

2. The government’s guidance on aircraft noise levels is available at:

3. The specific World Health Organisation guidance on noise levels is available
at: (section 4.3.1). The full report Guidelines for Community Noise is available

4. The figures for Stansted and Gatwick are available in the following Department
for Transport reports, published in January 2011 and covering 2009 (see 3.1 in
each report).

o Stansted:

o Gatwick:

5. The restriction on late flights forms part of the Airport’s Planning Agreement.
This is an agreement between the Department of the Environment and the Airport.
The current Agreement came into force on 14th October 2008. The Agreement also
included a cap on the number of seats offered for sale (essentially a limit on
passengers). However, this was removed by the Environment Minister in December

6. BCAW’s own calculation of the number of residents affected by aircraft noise
is based on population figures in the relevant council wards, and our estimate
of the proportion likely to be affected in each ward, based on flight path maps.


George Best Belfast City Airport and jobs – the facts 

George Best Belfast City Airport may claim it employs 1,500 people – but its
figures are based, in part, on speculation, and the number of local people directly
employed is tiny.

In fact, the airport’s own jobs figures, distributed to its Airport Forum consultative
body, reveal that, of the 90 people it directly employs:

• Just 16 come from east Belfast

• A further 6 live in south Belfast while 10 are from north Down

When the airport was asked how it derived the rest of its claimed 1,500 jobs
figure, it provided figures revealing that its total includes an unproven assumption
that 570 jobs are created or induced indirectly by the airport’s activities.

In December 2010, the airport’s Chief Executive, Brian Ambrose, was quoted in
the airport’s own Citylife magazine welcoming the bmibaby airline to the airport
with the words:

 “This is great news not only for the 1,500 employed here but the wider community
who rely on the airport’s success.”

In fact, the airport is only able to attribute 880 jobs (including its own 90
employees) to employment which is based either within the airport or within a
20-minute drive of it, and which is ‘wholly or largely’ related to the airport’s
operations. The airport keeps no record of where the individuals holding those
jobs live, other than those it employs directly.

Belfast City Airport Watch

June 2011


1. The airport has claimed that it is responsible for 1,500 jobs on a number
of occasions, most recently in its own Citylife magazine – see:

2. The jobs breakdown referred to in this briefing was provided by the airport
, at the request of a residents’ association. It is contained in two documents
circulated to the Airport Forum.