Emerald Airlines expands Belfast City Airport operation

Head of commercial at Emerald Airlines, Ciarán Smith, and Belfast City Airport's aviation development manager, Ellie McGimpsey (both centre), with Aer Lingus Regional crew.

THE operator of Aer Lingus Regional has expanded its operation at Belfast City Airport to include new flights and two additional aircraft.

Emerald Airlines launched flights to Glasgow and Exeter on Thursday, bringing the number of routes it operates at the airport to six.

The airline said two additional ATR72-600 turboprop planes have now joined its Belfast fleet, increasing the frequency of its existing services to Manchester and Birmingham, which now operate up to 3 times per day.

The start-up company, founded by aviation veteran Conor McCarthy in 2020, took over the Aer Lingus Regional service at Belfast City earlier this year, with its first flights taking off on March 24.

Emerald said it is still recruiting for flight and cabin crew at the airport.

The Aer Lingus Regional hub was originally set up at the airport in August 2020, but lasted just ten months when former operator Stobart Air collapsed during June 2021.

Aer Lingus and sister IAG carrier British Airways had stepped in to cover most of the former Stobart routes as an interim measure.

The expansion comes as Flybe returned to Belfast City Airport last month, some 25 months on from its collapse.

Its new owners Thyme Opco have announced plans to operate 12 routes from the airport this year.

Meanwhile, it's understood Eastern Airways is no longer operating its Belfast to Cardiff flights.

The only direct commercial air link between Northern Ireland and Wales, the service was launched in May 2021.

The latest available data from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) showed 104,971 passengers passed through Belfast City Airport's terminal in March 2022, a 512 per cent on March 2021, but numbers were still well down on 2019 levels.

Ellie McGimpsey, the airport's aviation development manager said the demand for flights is coming back.

“We are seeing strong demand for flights to England and Scotland, with customers visiting family and friends, making the most of a long weekend, and getting back to business travel.

“These new routes will give passengers more flexibility and choice, conveniently connecting them to a number of exciting destinations across Great Britain. Customers can travel from Belfast City to Glasgow daily and Exeter up to five times per week.

“The Aer Lingus Regional routes have been very popular with both inbound and outbound passengers, and we look forward to working together to further develop the network from Belfast City Airport.”

Ciarán Smith, head of commercial at Emerald Airlines said: “We are extremely pleased with the feedback we have received since beginning our operations from Belfast City Airport.

“Striving to be the airline of choice to and from Belfast, we are now adding to our fleet with the addition of two more aircraft.

“This allows us to increase the frequency of our flights in line with consumer demand, providing more options for those travelling to and from Belfast.”

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