Business

Belfast International Airport records rising profits as Ryanair expands Belfast hub

Profits have risen by more than a third at Belfast International Airport

PROFITS at Belfast International Airport jumped by more than a third last year as passenger numbers grew to 4.4 million.

The airport reported operating profit of £510,000 for 2015 (against £377,000 the previous year) on turnover of £31.1m, up from £29.4m.

The company said the performance was due to a 10 per cent rise in passengers while those using the airport also spent more per head.

And the performance is expected to rise yet further this year with the arrival of budget carrier Ryanair.

It alone has pledged to add more than 1m passengers to Aldergrove’s annual tally and yesterday announced another new route to Barcelona Girona.

And airport authorities have said they expect to “easily exceed” five million passengers this year.

In August this year, the airport saw 534,000 people passing through - a record rise of 14.5 per cent on the same month in 2015.

That brought passenger numbers over the first eight months of the year to 3.38m.

The growth is expected to bring scores more jobs to the airport.

The number of people employed directly by Belfast International Airport rose slightly last year to 157 on average (against 155) making its wage bill £8.2m.

Ryanair returned to Belfast earlier this year when it took over the route to London Gatwick which had been vacated by Aer Lingus.

Yesterday, the airline announced its 12th destination from Aldergrove adding Barcelona Girona to its lineup.

The twice-weekly service is due to start next March.

Ryanair already flys to Berlin and Milan from Belfast in addition to several sun routes and other destinations in Poland.

The company’s head of communications Robin Kiely said: “We are pleased to further extend our Belfast summer 2017 schedule, with a new route to Barcelona Girona, in addition to our 10 new summer routes and our four-times daily service to London Gatwick, which will deliver 1.1m customers per annum and support over 800 jobs at Belfast International Airport.

“To celebrate our new Belfast-Girona route, we are releasing seats for sale from just £24.99 for travel in March and April, which are available for booking until Thursday. Since these amazing low prices will be snapped up quickly, customers should log onto www.ryanair.com and avoid missing out.”

Uel Hoey, Belfast International business development director said: “Barcelona Girona is further proof of Ryanair’s commitment to creating choice for Northern Ireland passengers and delivering pretty impressive growth from its new Belfast base. “Once again, we will see more airline and airport-related jobs being created at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Ryanair also serves Alicante, Lanzarote, Malaga, Tenerife, Warsaw, Gdansk and Wraclow and Krakow from Belfast International.

It had previously operated from George Best Belfast City Airport but left in 2010 when a planned runway extension failed to materialise.

The airline has said it has big plans for Belfast with a target of as many as 40 routes from Aldergrove.

But it has said such figures could only be achieved if the government moves to scrap air passenger duty (APD).

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