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Belfast International braced for busiest summer ever

By Rachel Martin

Belfast International Airport is preparing for its busiest summer yet, with 2.3 million travellers expected to pass through its gates between now and the end of September.

And the airport said that its two busiest months of July and August will see it handle 1.2 million passengers.

The airport expects 30,000 flights to take off and touch down from its runways this summer.

It comes on the back of a record May, when more than 523,000 passengers used the airport.

Aldergrove is now offering around 90 direct destinations. Earlier this year it suffered a setback after losing its direct flight to Newark in the US - Northern Ireland's only transatlantic link.

But airport boss Graham Keddie vowed to replace the route and budget airline Norwegian's new transatlantic services to New York and New England (Providence/Boston) will jet off at the start of next month.

And domestic and European carriers easyJet, Ryanair, Virgin, Jet2, Thomas Cook and Thomson have also added extra flights to their schedules.

Uel Hoey, Belfast International Airport business development director, said: "We're experiencing consistent growth in traffic, and this summer we will see passenger numbers reach a new high.

"We're seeing a very notable increase in the number of passengers from the Republic of Ireland. A favourable pound/euro exchange rate is boosting cross-border traffic, particularly from the border counties. Travellers are motivated by a bargain and, with a weaker pound, there's never been a better time to choose one of our airlines.

"It's busier than ever before at the airport, and BIA and our retail, catering, security and operational partners have taken on additional staff to cope with demand."

Meanwhile, Dublin Airport is also posting record passenger numbers, it announced yesterday.

Around 2.6 million passengers flew through the airport in May, up 5% on the same month last year. Passenger volumes to and from continental Europe rose by 4%, with almost 1.4 million passengers travelling to European destinations last month.

More than 843,000 passengers travelled to UK destinations in May, which was an increase of 1% compared to last year.

Transatlantic traffic to and from North America increased by 18%, with almost 321,000 passengers travelling on this route sector in May.

Other international traffic, principally to the Middle East, increased by 3%, with more than 56,000 passengers travelling these routes during May.

Passenger numbers on domestic routes decreased by 9%, with more than 8,000 passengers travelling on domestic flights last month.

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