Northern Ireland news

Ryanair 'slashing Belfast to London flights to just two a week months earlier than planned'

Ryanair is set to run just two flights a week from Belfast International Airport to London

BUDGET airline Ryanair appears to be slashing its flights from Belfast to London from around three a day to just two a week, starting in June - months earlier than planned.

The airline last month released its Belfast International Airport winter schedule, signalling it would run just two flights a week.

They will be on a Sunday and a Friday.

At the time Ryanair indicated it would be cutting a slew of flights from Belfast, dropping its three Polish routes to Gdansk, Warsaw and Wroclaw as well as flights to Malta.

The 'winter' reduction was also to apply to Manchester airport and the airline blamed it on the "weak UK market" and UK Air Passenger Duty - the tax charged on all passenger flights.

However, passengers trying to book summer flights during the week and on Saturday have found the reduced service has been introduced earlier than indicated.

And one traveller who contacted the Irish News, has had his weekday flight in July - booked some time ago - cancelled.

Glyn Roberts of Retail NI said Northern Ireland 'needs to have air connectivity improved, not less'

Both Ryanair and Belfast International Airport declined to comment last night on the development which is the latest blow to the facility.

In September low-cost carrier Norwegian Air announced it was to stop direct flights between Northern Ireland and New York and Boston in the US due to "customer demand".

Its final departures were on October 27, a decision that prompted a spokesperson for Belfast International to say it was "extremely disappointed" by the decision and accuse the airline of "moronically channelling much greater levels of Northern Ireland passengers on to Dublin flights".

United Airlines had already ended its daily Belfast-Newark service.

The news comes after Flybe cancelled 10 flights to and from George Best Belfast City Airport, blaming "seasonality, pilots' end of year leave, Easter holidays, base restructuring and the shortage of pilots across the industry".

Glyn Roberts of Retail NI said Northern Ireland "particularly as we approach Brexit, need to have air connectivity improved, not less".

"From a broader economy point of view it is a disappointing development as it will mean less tourists and business visitors that are shopping in Belfast and other towns.

"We have to work harder to improve connectivity, not just within the UK, but internationally, but I know the two airports are working hard to open new routes and both will be able to introduce those in the near future."

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