Northern Ireland news

Belfast International to seek Executive aid after announcing partial closures during November

Passenger traffic has been decimated at Belfast International Airport after key airlines cut winter services at the terminal. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Ryan McAleer

BELFAST International Airport is to seek further financial support from the Executive after announcing reduced opening hours in response to a collapse in commercial activity.

The airport’s biggest operator, Easyjet, last week suspended November flights between Aldergrove and five key locations in Britain in response to the second lockdown in England.

Ryanair has already signalled it will cut its winter operation at the airport to just two routes, while holiday airliner Jet2 is planning just three routes to the Canary Islands during November and December.

Belfast International’s chief executive Graham Keddie said the actions of the airlines were understandable, but had left the airport in a difficult position.

He said keeping the hub open on a 24/7 basis for cargo, medical, police and military traffic is costing £65,000 per day.

In May, infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon announced a £5.7m support package for Belfast City and City of Derry airports.

Latest figures released by the Department of Finance suggest that just £3.1m has been allocated due to a “reduction in requirement”.

The Executive has also been handed an additional £400m by the Treasury for its Covid-19 response.

The partial closures at Belfast International will begin today, with the airport shutting from 11.15am to 6pm. It will reopen for 90 minutes to facilitate the Northern Ireland soccer team’s charter flight to Vienna.

Closures of around eight hours are also planned on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Saturdays for the rest of November.

Mr Keddie said the reduced hours will not impact scheduled passenger flights.

“Belfast International Airport has had to make some very tough decisions in recent months as the impact of Covid-19 has been devastating for the aviation sector.

“We did not make this decision lightly and we are in discussions with the NI Executive for support to ensure we that we will be in a position to welcome these flights back as soon as it is possible.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news