Belfast Telegraph

Cause for celebration as parcel firm wings in

By Margaret Canning

Fedex, the US parcel delivery firm with its own fleet of planes, has flown into Northern Ireland almost a year since Irish budget airline Ryanair abruptly flew out after a row over an airline extension at George Best Belfast City Airport.

As one of the most iconic names in US business - popularised and immortalised in culture in Tom Hanks' film Castaway 10 years ago - there will be much discussion about why FedEx has chosen to set up a hub in Northern Ireland.

But the company hopes that firms here will benefit from its presence and will avail of its guaranteed next day delivery to east coast US cities.

An official launch in Belfast International Airport will even feature a FedEx plane, and already a high-profile advertising campaign in the press has ensured FedEx's presence is being felt.

Ryanair, meanwhile, is one of the most iconic names in Irish business, for good and bad. One year on, and it's safe to say that Ryanair managing director Michael O'Leary hasn't been leading a quiet life since leaving Belfast.

Now he is ruffling feathers in London over the planned creation of a mainly-underground rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick.

The initiative would be christened 'Heathwick', which sounds curiously like a phrase which O'Leary might coin but is in fact the official moniker for the plan.

As ever not mincing his words, at a press conference for a separate Ryanair launch yesterday, O'Leary said: "This (UK) Government has no policy on aviation whatsoever.

"They have no particular expertise in tunnelling. The last one they did was the Eurotunnel, which went bankrupt even before it opened."

There was cause for celebration by Ryanair in Spain when a court overturned an earlier judicial decision to declare the airline's policy of charging passengers €40 for a boarding pass illegal.

The judge had found that it was the responsibility of airlines and not passengers to provide boarding cards.

O'Leary will be in celebratory mood after that victory.

Let's hope the arrival of FedEx one year after Ryanair left will give the rest of us something to celebrate.


From Belfast Telegraph