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Ryanair blames air passenger duty for withdrawal from Northern Ireland

 Ryanair is pulling out of Northern Ireland

The budget airline Ryanair has blamed the British government for not reducing air passenger duty as it confirmed it is pulling out of Northern Ireland.

Routes from Belfast International Airport to a number of European destinations will stop on October 30.

Ryanair stopped flying from the City of Derry Airport earlier this year and will also stop a number of seasonal flights from Belfast City Airport.

The airline had already stopped services to Britain in January, which saw it withdraw from City of Derry Airport, and will have stopped flying to and from Belfast City and Belfast International Airports by the end of October. 

Ryanair said it was ceasing operations from the two airports from the end of its summer schedule and blamed air passenger duty costs and a lack of Covid recovery incentives from both airports. 

The airline said it would reallocate its aircraft to "lower cost airports" in Britain and Europe.

“Due to the UK governmentt’s refusal to suspend or reduce APD (air passenger duty), and the lack of Covid recovery incentives from both Belfast airports, this winter Ryanair will cease operations from Belfast International and Belfast City Airport from the end of the summer schedule in October and these aircraft will be reallocated to lower cost airports elsewhere in the UK and Europe for the winter schedule which starts in November,” Ryanair said.

Belfast International Airport described it as "disappointing".

“It is disappointing that Ryanair has now decided to withdraw operations from the entire Northern Ireland market at the end of October, having variously had a presence in all three local airports in recent years. It has been a difficult period for aviation and a time when consumers need some stability and faith in the Northern Ireland air transport network.

“As we have been anticipating such a move, we have been engaging with our existing and other new airlines to provide continuity on the routes to be vacated by Ryanair, and to help sustain employment in the aviation industry at a local level in Northern Ireland. To this end we hope to be able to make announcements regarding fresh route development in the near future.”

Belfast City Airport said the routes had been seasonal.

Read more: Ryanair back on City Airport's runaway after 11 years away

SDLP Economy Spokesperson Sinéad McLaughlin said it was a blow for passengers and staff and she hoped other airlines would take over some of the routes.

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