Low-cost carrier Ryanair is to close its base at Belfast City from this November, blaming the delay in the airport’s runway extension.
The airline launched its Belfast base in 2007, and currently flies from the city’s conviently-located City airport to five UK destinations (Bristol, East Midlands, Prestwick, Liverpool and Stansted).
Ryanair had planned to offer routes to other European cities from the airport once the runway extension had been completed, but says that a public enquiry means the extended runway will not now be delivered until at least 2012, four years after it was originally due to be completed.
Commenting on the decision Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said:
“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. It makes no sense for Ryanair to continue to invest in Belfast City, operating restricted routes with less than full payloads between Belfast and other UK airports (which suffer a double APD penalty) unless there is clear and immediate prospect of Ryanair being enabled to safely operate longer European routes from Belfast City Airport and for this we need the runway extension.”
“While we recognise the right of the Government and people of Northern Ireland to subject this small runway extension to an extended planning process, these repeated delays, the reference to a public inquiry and now the further delay to the public inquiry for spurious noise reasons, shows a lack of willingness on the part of the local authorities to grow and develop traffic, routes, tourism and jobs in Northern Ireland.
“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 in order to operate our lowest fare flights immediately, safely and profitably.”
For more information visit ryanair.com.
Report by Mark Caswell