Northern Ireland news

Aer Lingus to put on additional flight between Belfast and London following criticism over packed flight

The images, captured by passenger Sean Mallon, were taken on an Aer Lingus flight from Belfast to London. Picture from BBC

Aer Lingus has announced it will put on an additional flight between Belfast and London Heathrow following criticism over a lack of social distancing on the service on Monday.

The airline has also advised all customers due to travel on the route to give themselves additional time to check in, as changes to the boarding procedure will be introduced and more luggage will be checked into the hold.

“In order to reduce the operational pressure involved in implementing these measures, Aer Lingus is putting on an additional flight frequency on each day of operation of the service,” said the airline.

“The two services will depart at 0845 and 0945 on each day of operation. It is expected that this additional frequency will result in reduced loads on each flight.

“The Belfast – London Heathrow service is provided to maintain a vital air link between Belfast and London and to allow critical workers to travel where required.

“The safety and security of Aer Lingus’ customers and crew is our number one priority, and these process changes are being implemented as a matter of urgency.”

The photographs, which were captured on an Aer Lingus flight, show passengers sitting side-by-side with no social distancing regulations in place.

Passenger Sean Mallon, who took the pictures, told BBC Evening Extra that most of the seats were taken and there were no apparent measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

"I would say there was about 95 per cent of the seats taken on the flight," he said.

"There was no social distancing whatsoever."

Earlier today health minister Robin Swann said he was shocked to see a packed Aer Lingus flight.

"It was as if they were oblivious to any of the guidelines around social distancing," he said.

He urged the airline to revise its procedures quickly.

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