Business

Belfast City Airport expansion is response to Flybe collapse - EasyJet

'The City operation is by no means negatively impacting on anything we are doing at the International.'

EasyJet's expansion at Belfast City Airport will contribute to its biggest ever operation in the north this summer.
EasyJet's expansion at Belfast City Airport will contribute to its biggest ever operation in the north this summer.

EASYJET’S growth at Belfast City Airport has not impacted its main operation at Belfast International Airport, the airline’s UK country manager has said.

The budget carrier confirmed plans this week to introduce new year-round flights to Manchester and Luton this summer, which will make it the second biggest airline at the City Airport.

EasyJet is also adding an eighth aircraft at Aldergrove ahead of what will be its biggest ever summer operation in Northern Ireland.

“The two operations are sitting very, very well alongside each other,” said Ali Gayward. “The City operation is by no means negatively impacting on anything we are doing at the International.”

EasyJet’s ramp up in the north comes as Ryanair prepares to resume operations at Belfast International Airport on Sunday.

“We welcome competition,” said the EasyJet manager. “It's good for consumers because it keeps prices attractive to them, which I think is really important.”

She said the City Airport expansion was a direct response to the collapse of Flybe in March 2020.

Delayed by the pandemic, EasyJet launched a new Gatwick service at the airport in July 2021, after a decade—long gap.

The decision to increase the number of routes at Belfast City Airport to six this summer followed the second failure of Flybe in January this year.

Ms Gayward said the new City Airport routes “have performed incredibly well for us”, adding: “It hasn’t in any way detracted from what we are doing at the International Airport, but it has actually back-filled the gap that had been left by Flybe.

“When we saw the second sad failure by Flybe earlier this year, then that gap was even greater.”

While the UK country manager said EasyJet is “very keen” to increase activity at the airport, any further expansion could be curtailed by time limits and capacity constraints.

A nighttime curfew currently prevents flights operating between 9.30pm at night and 6.30am in the morning.

“We'll be looking really quite closely at what else we may be able to do in the future,” she said.

“When we look at what we do out of the International Airport and the demand we see across all of the domestic points that we serve, there probably are one or too gaps, that perhaps could be looked at for the future

“We're keen to look at all opportunities, really very much an open mind as to what works best for the market.”