British Airways to resume flights at Belfast City Airport on July 1 as new data reveals 99 per cent fall in passengers during April
BRITISH Airways will resume twice daily flights from Belfast City Airport on July 1 as new figures reveal that just 2,669 passengers flew in or out of Northern Ireland on commercial flights during the entire month of April.
The new figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were published as new quarantine rules came into effect in the north on Monday.
It means anyone arriving from outside the Common Travel Area, and not on the list of exempted workers, must quarantine for 14 days.
Refusal to provide passenger information on arrival will prompt a £60 fine, rising to £1,000 if passengers refuse to isolate.
The move has been heavily criticized by both airports and airlines.
According to the CAA, a total of 2,503 people passed through Belfast City Airport in April, while just 166 used City of Derry Airport.
Belfast International Airport saw no commercial airline activity during the entire month.
Flights at Aldergrove will resume on June 15 with easyJet set to reintroduce seven routes. Ryanair and Jet2 are due to return from early July.
The 2,669 total for the month of April represents a 99.7 per cent decline on the 769,103 passengers which used all three airports during April 2019.
The only active commercial air-links retained during lockdown have been maintained by Aer Lingus at Belfast City Airport and Loganair in Derry. Both fly to London.
Aer Lingus had shared the Belfast to Heathrow link with fellow IAG carrier British Airways, but the service was downgraded during April.
The Irish airline recently stepped up activity, adding a second daily flight on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. It’s understood the move was in response to calls for greater social distancing on the flights after footage of a packed flight went viral during May.
It now operates nine flights a week between Belfast City Airport and Heathrow. It will increase that to 12 from June 22, to include a midweek evening flight on Tuesdays and Fridays, as well as a Saturday morning flight.
"Aer Lingus continues to monitor capacity and has added capacity where demand is increased," it said in a statement.
The Heathrow route is set to expand further next month when British Airways resumes its operation.
Tickets are already on sale, with the first flight from Belfast on the morning of July 1 virtually sold out.
Activity at the airport had been substantially reduced prior to the pandemic following the collapse of anchor tenant Flybe at the start of March 2020. CAA data showed passenger numbers down by 77 per cent in March.
It’s understood that talks are continuing between the airport and a number of airlines about taking over some of the former Flybe routes.
The latest CAA figures reveal a 99 per cent drop in passenger numbers across all UK airports. A total of 245,803 passengers were recorded during April, 206,600 of them using Heathrow.
It compares with the 24.7 million passengers recorded during April 2019.