Business

NI airports back operating at 50 per cent pre-pandemic levels

The number of air passengers in the north in August 2021 was almost double the level of August 2020 according to the CAA. Picture by Matt Alexander/PA Wire.

THE north's three main airports were back operating at just over 50 per cent pre-pandemic levels during August, according to the latest official data.

It comes as holiday airline Jet2 increased an order of planes originally placed during August 2021. The Leeds-based carrier added further 15 Airbus A321neo jets to its original order for 36.

Air travel activity has picked up in recent weeks in response to the easing of restrictions on international destinations.

The latest figures from the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recorded 478,337 passengers at Belfast City, Belfast International and City of Derry airports during August, almost double the number from August 2020 and 52 per cent of the 912,213 recorded during August 2019.

Belfast International remains the north's busiest airport, with 343,462 passing through the Aldergrove terminal during August.

But Belfast City Airport says a pick-up in activity means retailers and operators are now recruiting for around 40 positions.

British Airways and Aer Lingus have both announced an uplift in frequency on some winter routes to Britain. The IAG carriers stepped in to cover a number of key GB routes following the collapse of Stobart Air in June. The company had operated the Aer Lingus Regional hub at Belfast City Airport.

Belfast City Airport said the increase means additional baggage handlers, taxi drivers, hospitality and retail staff are needed.

The airport's commercial manager, Joanne Deighan, said: “The removal of Northern Ireland travel traffic light system leaving just one single list of ‘red' countries from October 4 as well as the announcement that the US will open up to fully vaccinated travellers from November is huge news for the aviation industry.

“And with over 88 per cent of adults over 18 in Northern Ireland now fully vaccinated we are already seeing an uplift in demand for short getaways and business trips over the next few months.”

The airport is expected to announce a further uplift in route activity in the coming weeks.

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