It’s official! Belfast International Airport is back in the top ten of UK airports.
As the airport gears up for its busiest ever summer season, the company says it will deliver well over 5 million passengers this year, followed by further impressive growth in 2017.
It’s ten years since the airport was last in the top ten list. It climbed from eleven to ten after recording an April performance of 395,640 passengers which was up 16% on the same month last year.
In the twelve months to the end of April, the airport recorded 4,589,618 passengers, pipping Newcastle by almost14,000 for the coveted top ten spot.
Expansion by existing airlines coupled with the decision by Ryanair to open a new base at the airport is fuelling the growth.
Ryanair commenced operations with a four a-day schedule to Gatwick at the end of March. In the autumn, the airline will add ten European routes including Berlin, Milan and Warsaw.
The top five domestic destinations are Gatwick, Liverpool, Stansted, London Luton and Glasgow. The stand-out performer in April was Gatwick where April passenger numbers were up 84% to 73,000.
Faro leads the five most popular international destinations, followed by Amsterdam, Palma, Alicante and New York.
Belfast International Airport Managing Director, Graham Keddie, says the airport is a key strategic asset for Northern Ireland and is capable of delivering much more for the regional economy.
Mr Keddie said: “Our return to the top ten is wonderful news for the team. We’ve worked hard to get to this position and there’s every likelihood that 2017 will be even better.
“We’re able to achieve this result with serious impediments in our way such as Air Passenger Duty (APD). Take that ‘roadblock’ away, and we know with certainty that we could add dozens of new routes and boost passenger numbers by up to three million.
“Once again, I’d appeal to our new administration to look seriously at taking control of APD as its clear that thousands of new jobs and unprecedented growth in direct in-bound tourism would result if this tax were swept aside.”