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Ryanair to unveil return to Belfast this week after five years away

By John Mulgrew

Published 05/01/2016

A Ryanair plane lands at Dublin Airport
A Ryanair plane lands at Dublin Airport
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary

Ryanair looks set to announce its return to Belfast this week — five years after the budget carrier pulled out of the city.

It ceased flights from Belfast City Airport in 2010 following delays to a planned runway extension. It wanted a longer runway so that it could operate flights to a number of European destinations.

Speculation about the move has been growing since new take-off and landing slots became available at London's Gatwick Airport.

But on Thursday the airline is expected it will announce it's setting up a new hub at Belfast International Airport.

It comes after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the airline was making grand return to the city, after five years away.

Ryanair looks set to begin flying to London's Gatwick airport, with around half a dozen other destinations understood to be on the cards.

In November, industry sources said there's a "strong likelihood" that Ryanair will secure at least some of the Aer Lingus slots and will run a Gatwick service from Belfast International, in competition with easyJet on that route.

A Ryanair spokesman said: "As we have stated, should we secure workable Belfast-Gatwick slots, then we will launch a high frequency service, but we have had no confirmation to date."

British Airways owner, IAG, has been forced to give up the lucrative slots following its takeover of Aer Lingus, and Ryanair has been trying to acquire them, bidding against other airlines.

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