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Brussels Airlines 'left passengers in dark' over exit from Belfast

By John Mulgrew

Disgruntled customers of Brussels Airlines say they only found out the company was cancelling their flights and pulling out of Belfast after reading about it on Twitter.

The route launched in March last year, just days after a terror attack on the Belgian capital's airport.

The service operates from George Best Belfast City Airport five times a week, but will stop next month.

It was the first time a Belgian airline had based itself on the island of Ireland in 15 years.

James Draper, a social worker from Belfast, was booked to fly with five friends for his stag party in Brussels in June.

But he said he only discovered the flights would not be going ahead after reading about it on the internet.

"There are six people coming from Belfast to Brussels. We booked in November and are flying in June," he said.

"It's a weekend, and we were due to fly out on the Friday and come back on the Sunday. Other people have booked the Eurostar coming from London based on our times. People are also coming from Dublin.

"I first heard through a tweet. No one has contacted me. There has been no email.

"If you log on to the booking page, all it says is 'your flight has been suspended, please contact us'."

He said its customer service had been "awful". The group will now have to travel out of Dublin.

"It's an extra hassle. We haven't heard from them and haven't been contacted, I think it's awful and a disgraceful way to be treated," he added.

Brussels Airlines said: "There are no other airlines serving the route, so it is unfortunately not a simple rebooking process. We are in the middle of negotiating with other airlines to take over our passengers via other airports.

"In order to give our customers relevant communication and a proper solution, we were holding off our communication until we had that information. Of course we also offer a refund to our guests who do not wish to fly anymore. We will inform everyone about their options."

Belfast City Airport said: "The Brussels Airlines service from Belfast City Airport will continue five times weekly until the suspension of the service at the end of March.

"We apologise for the inconvenience to those passengers booked to travel after March 31, and in order to minimise this the airport is working closely with Brussels Airlines, and indeed our other partner airlines, to facilitate alternative travel options for these passengers."

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