Aer Lingus linked with seven new routes from Belfast City Airport
AER Lingus has been linked with seven former Flybe routes at Belfast City Airport.
The collapse of Flybe in early March took with it around 80 per cent of all flights at the east Belfast airport.
Some of the 14 routes vacated by the regional carrier have already been snapped up by Scottish airline Loganair, Eastern Airways and British Airways’ subsidiary City Flyer.
But a glitch on the Aer Lingus website suggests the Irish airline could be set to take on the bulk of the remaining routes.
Aer Lingus currently operates a number of regional routes in Ireland and Britain flown by Stobart Air.
Seven new routes from Belfast City Airport to former Flybe destinations in Britain appeared on the Aer Lingus online booking system for a number of hours on Thursday.
The routes, which were quickly removed, included flights to Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds/Bradford, East Midlands, Glasgow and Exeter.
The flights were all listed as fully booked. Aviation insiders said such practice is often typical for airlines preparing to introduce new routes.
Asked about it plans for Belfast City Airport, a spokesperson for the airline said: “It is Aer Lingus policy not to comment on online speculation regarding potential changes to our route network.”
Aer Lingus and fellow IAG airline British Airways currently operates the Belfast City Airport to Heathrow route on a joint basis.
It’s the airline’s only active route in the north after recently cutting services from Belfast City to Faro and Malaga earlier this year.
It’s a far cry from 2007 when Aer Lingus announced it would set up its first hub outside Dublin at Belfast International Airport. Initially launched with eight routes, it soon expanded to 14 destinations.
But the carrier later switched its focus to Gatwick, stripping back the Aldergrove operation.
Aer Lingus eventually moved from Belfast International to Belfast City Airport in October 2012, a major coup for the latter at the time.
The introduction of the new routes at Belfast City Airport would come as a surprise in the current climate for the industry.
But the seven routes listed on the Aer Lingus website were among the most popular operated by Flybe in Belfast.