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EasyJet adds Dubrovnik to Belfast departure list

Dubrovnik is the latest destination offered by easyJet from Belfast

EASYJET has added Dubrovnik to its line up of destinations from Belfast International Airport.

The budget carrier will start a service to the Croatian capital from next May.

Twice weekly flights are planned until early October with return fares starting from less than £100.

A Belfast-to-Dubrovnik service was previously operated by Jet2.

The service represents the 28th destination offered by easyJet from Belfast and will boost the airport's ambitions to significantly add passenger numbers next year.

Aldergrove authorities expect the airport to eclipse 5 million passengers within a year for the first time in the days leading up to Christmas.

Last month alone, the airport dealt with 411,000 passengers in a 21st consecutive month of growth.

Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie said it planned to consolidate its position as a top 10 UK airport next year.

“This year has been a colossal success, helped in no small measure by a favourable pound-euro exchange rate," he said.

"We're more attractive to visitors from GB and to passengers from the Republic of Ireland, and that situation will continue."

The year also saw Ryanair set up a base at the airport where it launched several routes including to Berlin.

“We've added important new routes to wider our appeal and have now got a foothold in the lucrative German market," added Mr Keddie.

“Much more could be achieved if we didn't have Air Passenger Duty (APD) which restricts and hampers our growth.

“The 5 million passenger figure for the year is now firmly in our sights, and we expect to do even better in 2017.”

Ryanair's arrival has increased competition at Aldergrove for easyJet over recent months.

The airlines directly compete on four routes, namely Krakow, Faro, Alicante and London Gatwick.

However, speaking to the Irish News last month, easyJet's commercial manager in the UK Ali Gayward said the firm was not concerned about the additional competition.

"We have seen many competitors come and go in the 17 years that we have operated from Belfast. And we have been the most loyal over that time," she said.

"We are by far the biggest airline at the international airport, accounting for 80 per cent of passengers and the figure is more than 50 per cent for the whole of Northern Ireland."

In November, easyJet posted a 27.9 per cent tumble in pre-tax profits to £495m for the year to September 30, from £686m a year earlier, after the plunging pound cost it £88m and it suffered a hit of around £150m from "unprecedented" events.

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