Belfast International Airport Statement
Published: 19 July 2012
Belfast International Airport was aware that discussions between Aer Lingus and Belfast City Airport had been going on for quite some time.
The decision by the airline runs contrary to its stated position in the recent past. We have been offered no explanation as to why Aer Lingus should move from its belief that Belfast International is the “ideal location for the new Aer Lingus base” (2007 Aer Lingus statement).
Aer Lingus also stated that our 24/7, all-weather operations and long runways were capable of “accommodating all current and future Aer Lingus potential”.
Furthermore, in November, 2009*, Aer Lingus Chief Executive, Christoph Mueller, said for a region this size, it made economic sense to have just one airport, and that was Belfast International, indicating that Belfast International Airport (BIA) was “better positioned to facilitate air passengers” than the rival George Best Belfast City Airport (BCA).
Said Mr Mueller: “We will concentrate our operations at Belfast International Airport and will develop them further. The short runway and the night-time flight curfew are significant constraints for Belfast City Airport. More restrictions exist there than opportunities and all the advantages are with Belfast International Airport”.
Reacting to the announcement, Belfast International Airport’s John Doran said: “We have asked Aer Lingus why it has performed this u-turn, but so far we haven’t heard any explanation that makes sense – save that they have been offered an implausibly low deal on charges by the airport to move there, and that they aspire to charging higher fares and commanding stronger yields as a result of flying from the City Airport. Clearly this development is bad news for local consumers, who until now had enjoyed some competitive Aer Lingus fares from Belfast International.
“We’re sorry the airline has taken this decision which will have no positive effect on in-bound tourism or the development of a robust local aviation sector that’s capable of competing with Dublin which, as well as being Aer Lingus’s home base, is our main competitive challenge on the island.
“We are already working to fill the void left by this defection and are confident that in coming months we will have positive news on new GB and international services”.