Ryanair announced (31-Aug-2010) plans to close its Belfast City Airport base at the end of the current summer schedule on 31-Oct-2010, following the airport's confirmation that the public inquiry into the promised runway extension will be further delayed, thereby delaying yet again the launch of new Ryanair service from the airport to Europe. The runway extension was scheduled to be delivered in 2008 but has not been approved by the Northern Ireland Government, and will now be the subject of a delayed public inquiry, which puts back the runway extension to 2012 at the earliest. Ryanair operates five routes to the UK from the airport and had planned to launch longer haul services from the airport once the new runway was open. From early Nov-2010, Ryanair will switch its one Belfast City-based aircraft to another European airport, with the loss of 50 Ryanair jobs (all staff will be offered relocation elsewhere in the UK or Europe) and the loss of 1 million passengers annually, which will result in the loss of up to 1,000 support jobs in and around Belfast City Airport. [more - Ryanair] [more - Belfast City Airport]
- Belfast City Airport stated it was disappointed with the decision (BBC News, 31-Aug-2010);
- easyJet stated it supports the government’s slow canvassing of the public to assist in its decision as to whether to approve the project, adding that it and a number of other airlines are happy to continue operating from the airport (Associated Press, 01-Sep-2010);
- Northern Ireland Planning Minister, Edwin Poots, also expressed his disappointment, stating the airline could have still launched international services from the airport;
- Tourism Ireland stated the move is “regrettable” and it will continue cooperative marketing efforts with other carriers to stimulate demand (BreakingNews.ie, 31/08/2010);
- Belfast City Airport Watch stated residents are pleased by the move.
Ryanair: "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," Michael O'Leary, CEO. Source: Ryanair, 31-Aug-2010.
Belfast City Airport: “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. Recent significant and continuing private investment by the airport's owner has made Belfast City Airport an attractive proposition for passengers and airlines alike. Ryanair's announcement will not divert us in pursuing the continued development of the airport. Our goal still remains to attract new airlines and new destinations to and from Belfast City Airport resulting in a much needed economic boost for the region,” Katy Best, Business Development Director. Source: BBC News, 31-Aug-2010.
easyJet: “Once again, Ryanair wants the red carpet rolled out for them, while easyJet and many other airlines are happy to fly from City Airport as it is today,” Ali Gayward, Commercial Manager, Northern Ireland. Source: Associated Press, 01-Sep-2010.