Ryanair pulling out of Belfast City Airport
Ryanair is pulling out of Belfast City Airport from October, it was revealed today.
Five routes to London Stansted, Liverpool, East Midlands, Bristol and Glasgow Prestwick will be withdrawn.
Airport spokeswoman Katy Best said she was extremely disappointed.
"Ryanair will cease services from Belfast City Airport on 31 October 2010. Passengers are advised to check with Ryanair for bookings made after that date," she said.
The airline has supported the George Best Belfast City Airport's bid to secure a runway extension at its site in the east of the city.
It has been running on a reduced passenger load since its operations were established in October 2007. There are also restrictions on night-time flying.
Ryanair said 50 jobs would be lost and one million passengers annually as well as up to 1,000 support roles in and around the airport.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "While we recognise the right of the Government and people of Northern Ireland to subject this small runway extension to an extended planning process, these repeated delays, the reference to a public inquiry, and now the further delay to the public inquiry for spurious noise reasons, shows a lack of willingness on the part of the local authorities to grow and develop traffic, routes, tourism and jobs in Northern Ireland.
"In these circumstances, sadly, we have better alternative airports elsewhere in the UK and Europe, all of whom are willing and able to provide us with the runway infrastructure and low-cost facilities we need in order to operate our lowest fare flights immediately, safely and profitably."
A public inquiry was launched into the runway extension after vociferous opposition from local residents. It was suspended earlier this summer.
Ms Best said: "We are obviously disappointed at Ryanair's decision; the airline had provided five successful routes from Belfast City Airport.
"However, passenger figures had proved that there was significant demand for the routes operated by Ryanair and I am confident that we can attract other airlines to fill the void.
"Recent significant and continuing private investment by the airport's owner has made Belfast City Airport an attractive proposition for passengers and airlines alike.
"Ryanair's announcement will not divert us in pursuing the continued development of the airport.
"Our goal still remains to attract new airlines and new destinations to and from Belfast City Airport, resulting in a much- needed economic boost for the region."
Planning Minister Edwin Poots, who referred the runway extension to a public inquiry, said he was disappointed. He added the airline could have operated international flights from Belfast International Airport.
"There has been an economic downturn and as a consequence airline companies are cutting their cloth," he said.
"Northern Ireland unfortunately has failed to meet requirements for Ryanair."
Liz Fawcett, spokeswoman for Belfast City Airport Watch, which opposes the runway extension, said: "Residents are very pleased. They had a particularly unpopular 6.30am flight and certainly this will give some respite."
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: "The announcement today by Ryanair that it is withdrawing its services from Great Britain into George Best Belfast City Airport is very regrettable.
"Direct, convenient and competitive access services are critical to achieving a return to growth in inbound tourism."
EasyJet's commercial manager for Northern Ireland, Ali Gayward, said: "As Northern Ireland's largest airline, we believe that there is sufficient airport capacity in Belfast today. There must be a proper public inquiry before any decision over airport expansion is taken.
"Once again, Ryanair wants the red carpet rolled out for them, while easyJet and many other airlines are happy to fly from City Airport as it is today."