Belfast Telegraph

Mixed fortunes at Northern Ireland airports as City of Derry numbers fall

By John Mulgrew

Passenger numbers at two of Northern Ireland's airports have fallen - with City of Derry seeing a huge 40% decrease in May. Belfast City Airport also saw overall passenger numbers falling by 9% in the month, based on the same period a year earlier.

That meant 'terminal and transit' passenger numbers were down from 242,996 passengers to 221,829.

But it was City of Derry Airport which suffered the biggest loss. Passenger numbers were down 41%, falling from 23,513 to just shy of 14,000 in May this year, according to fresh figures from the CAA.

However, Belfast International Airport has increased overall numbers. It saw numbers rising by 19%. It comes after low-cost giant Ryanair set up at the airport at the start of 2016. It now operates around 13 routes here. The airport also welcomed its first inbound US flight with budget airline Norwegian yesterday morning.

But certain routes at Belfast City Airport are on the rise. That includes flights to Amsterdam, with a 22% increase in passenger numbers.

However, sun routes, such as Faro in Portugal, tumbled by almost a quarter, falling to 8,250 passengers in May. Alicante also fell by 58% during in May, based on the same period a year earlier.

Belfast International saw passenger numbers on its Alicante routes rising by 40%.

Katy Best, commercial and marketing director at George Best Belfast City Airport, said: "Belfast City Airport is enjoying an exciting period, as highlighted by the launch last month of our three-times weekly flight to Reykjavik with Icelandair, which is serving key cities such as Boston, Seattle and Toronto.

"Strategic air connectivity is vital to maintaining the success which Belfast City Airport has enjoyed in recent years and we are confident of continuing to grow our route network.

"While our domestic passenger figures for May 2017 were impacted by the reduction of capacity on Flybe's Liverpool route, we have seen an increase in passengers across a large number of other UK routes.

"Aer Lingus began its popular sunshine routes later than last year and we also lost a significant number of passengers through the cessation of our Brussels flight in March, both of which affected our international figures for the month.

"However, our KLM flight to Amsterdam continues to go from strength-to-strength, enjoying an impressive 22% increase in passenger figures in May."

A spokesperson for City of Derry Airport said a total of 259,000 passengers travelled through the airport between May 2016 and May 2017.

That's a 10% fall during the 12 month period. It said the decline in passenger numbers is a direct result of reduced capacity. That includes Ryanair pulling its London Stansted and Faro flights, followed by reduced capacity to Liverpool.

But, the airport said that as of "May 2017, BMI Regional commenced operations of a double daily service to London Stansted – offering more frequency to London Stansted but less capacity than the previous operator".

"Ryanair continues to offer five services per week to Glasgow International and two services per week to Liverpool; with Thomson and First Choice operating a 'summer sun' programme to Majorca," it said.

Belfast Telegraph

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