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Ryanair to return to Belfast City Airport with eight summer routes

Ryanair has confirmed it will return to Belfast City Airport for the first time in almost 11 years. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ryan McAleer

RYANAIR has announced plans to return to Belfast City Airport for the first time since 2010.

The Irish budget carrier will operate eight routes to sun destinations from the east Belfast airport this summer.

Routes include Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga, Palma, Valencia, Ibiza, Faro and Milan Bergamo.

Most of the routes previously operated from Belfast International Airport.

Ryanair has not confirmed the fate of its operation at Aldergrove, which has remained grounded since January due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airline was due to resume six routes in the summer to Polish and Spanish destinations.

Other key routes including London Stansted have been axed.

Ryanair has yet to offer a return date for flights from City of Derry Airport to Edinburgh and Liverpool.

Thursday’s surprise announcement of the return to Belfast City Airport comes almost 11 years after Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary announced the airline’s withdrawal from east Belfast, citing repeated delays over extending the airport’s small runway.

In an infamous press conference, the airline boss announced: "If Belfast doesn't want us and the authorities up here don't recognise that Ryanair wants to invest in Belfast, wants to invest in Northern Ireland tourism, but we're not going to beat our head against the bloody wall for more than three years to do it, then to hell with you."

Ryanair will now return without the runway extension.

The move represents a major boost to Belfast City Airport, almost one year to the day since the collapse of anchor airline Flybe, which took with it around 80 per cent of flights.

Over the past year, the airport has gradually replaced the regional routes, with Aer Lingus setting up a new regional hub last summer.

Airport chief executive, Brian Ambrose, who will retire later this year, said: “This is excellent news for those in Northern Ireland considering a getaway this summer. The choice of routes offered by Ryanair will facilitate both city breaks and relaxing beach holidays for our passengers.

Travel has been significantly restricted over the last 12 months and as the vaccine rollout continues at pace and the restrictions ease, we expect there will be considerable demand for these routes, and we look forward to welcoming Ryanair customers through the terminal.”

Ryanair’s marketing director, Dara Brady said: “We are delighted to make a return to Belfast City Airport this summer, having previously operated here in 2010. The UK Government’s highly successful rollout of their vaccination programme gives customers the confidence that travel will be possible this summer and NI consumers now have 8 routes at low fares to some of the most popular summer holiday destinations in Spain, Portugal and Italy to choose from.”

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