Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair rival boosts city services

Low-cost airline bmibaby is to schedule extra flights from Belfast after Ryanair said it was pulling out of the city.

An additional five services a week will leave Belfast International for East Midlands Airport.

Ryanair will cease its George Best Belfast City Airport operations on October 31 because of Government delays over approving a controversial runway extension.

Julian Carr, managing director of bmibaby, said: "Bmibaby is committed to Northern Ireland and we have been delighted at the success of our routes to date.

"As a result of this and recent events, we have announced an additional five flights a week from Belfast International to East Midlands Airport."

Passengers have a choice of three flights a day on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday plus two flights on a Sunday.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary sparked a row with ministers at Stormont after he criticised them for airport development delays.

While the 50 Ryanair staff working on the Belfast routes will be offered redeployment opportunities, Mr O'Leary claimed his move would cost 1,000 other jobs which rely on the operator's presence in the city.

His decision comes after a planning application lodged two years ago to extend the runway by around 600m (1,968ft), thus opening it up to destinations further afield, was referred to public inquiry by the Stormont government.

Ryanair flights between Belfast and London Stansted, Liverpool, East Midlands, Bristol and Glasgow Prestwick Airports will be withdrawn at the end of October.

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