Belfast International Airport records busiest month in 2.5 years
APRIL was the busiest month for Belfast International Airport since October 2019, new official passenger data has shown.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said 431,468 passengers passed through the Aldergrove terminal in April this year, an increase of 679 per cent on the 55,416 from April 2021.
Crucially, the data shows Northern Ireland's biggest airport was back operating at around 80 per cent pre-pandemic levels.
The 431,468 passengers recorded in April was the highest headcount in the airport since October 2019, when 518,039 people passed through the terminal.
In excess of six million passengers passed through Belfast International Airport in both 2018 and 2019. But numbers plummeted in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic to 1.75 million in 2020 and 2.3 million in 2021.
The rapid recovery of the air travel sector in mid-2022 has caught the industry off guard, with widespread staff shortages causing significant disruption.
Belfast International's anchor carrier EasyJet has struggled to fulfil all its services, while security shortages at Dublin Airport caused major chaos this week.
Dublin Airport Authority said the 4.5 million passengers it served in April and May this year was 500,000 more than its best forecast in early 2022.
The airport said new measures introduced in recent days are now in place, with operations now moving “very efficiently”.
The DAA expects some 200,000 to pass through its terminals this weekend.
Recruitment drives are ongoing across the industry in many cases to replace staff let go during the pandemic lull.
Meanwhile the latest CAA data showed Belfast City Airport back operating at close to 53 per cent of its pre-Covid numbers in April 2022.
Some 111,236 passengers were recorded in the east Belfast terminal, 287 per cent more than April 2021.
Although around 100,000 passengers down on April 2019. it was the third best month for the airport since the onset of the pandemic.
The City Airport's numbers are expected to recover steadily this summer with the return of Flybe and the introduction of Emerald Airlines, which was taken over the Aer Lingus Regional hub at the airport.
City of Derry Airport was also back operating at 80 per cent pre-pandemic levels during April.
The CAA said 12,810 passengers passed through the Eglinton terminal, 281 per cent up on last year.
It compared to 15,887 from April 2019.