Belfast International Airport passenger numbers up 16%
Belfast International Airport's passenger numbers have increased by 16% — rising to 400,000 last month.
The provisional figure for April traffic includes the first month of operation of Ryanair on the London Gatwick route.
The airport handled almost 400,000 passengers in April. It comes after numbers also increased by 12% a month earlier.
Belfast International boss Graham Keddie said passenger numbers could soon push the airport back into the top 10 in the UK.
Speaking about the latest figures for April, Mr Keddie said the performance was “strong and getting stronger”.
“Our airlines, easyJet, Jet2, Wizz, Ryanair and United put in impressive performances. Charter activity is also picking up and we expect that aspect of the business to make a significant contribution this month.
“Our summer season is set to be the one of the busiest ever. We’ve got the return of Virgin and, of course, the ‘green and white army’ exodus next month for Euro 2016. We have thirteen charters signed up to ‘airlift’ the fans and, when you add the number of passengers who will use scheduled services to get to match venues, we’re gearing up to handle an additional 5,000 or so passengers.
“This level of activity will see the airport easily break the five million-mark this year. Our performance is strong and getting stronger.
“We have new Ryanair routes coming on-stream in the autumn which will drive passenger numbers up by well over one million.”
Ryanair says it could have 40 routes operating from Belfast International Airport and four million passengers in the next two to three years.
It made a grand return to Belfast in March, launching its Gatwick route. A further seven routes followed, and there are now 11 locations it flies to from Belfast.
Mr Keddie said: “Looking ahead, 2017 will be a bumper year for us and it’s when we will also host the international Routes Europe Conference. We’re still trying to develop new long-haul services to Canada, in particular, and the Middle East, and that is where the new £4 million Air Development Fund can play a major part.”