Belfast Telegraph

100 extra posts for International Airport as easyJet adds further flights

By John Mulgrew

EasyJet is adding another 250,000 seats to its summer schedule this year, creating up to 100 support jobs.

The budget airline is increasing its capacity considerably across a number of routes, both domestic and international.

Belfast International Airport said the expansion would add 100 new jobs in "aviation support, retail and supply companies", which it claims will be worth £1.6m in wages to the local economy.

Flight frequency will increase by 8%, with seat capacity boosted on London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Newcastle routes. In addition, Lanzarote will be extended during the summer.

Passenger numbers at Belfast International Airport jumped by nearly 20% during January.

The airport stressed it had received no cash from the taxpayer towards the expansion.

Belfast International's business development director, Uel Hoey, added: "It's important to remember that this growth comes in advance of any air route development fund, which we expect to be announced shortly.

"The fund should serve to accelerate growth and deliver links to markets not already served from Northern Ireland.

"While the finishing touches are being put to the fund, the airport and our airlines are in expansion mode, growing the business, extending the route network and creating jobs.

"We could do much more and we can't wait to see the remit, scope and extent of the fund, which has been years in the making. This summer is on track to be our most successful ever. We would like to congratulate easyJet for its long-term commitment to this market, and we look forward to working closely with the airline to create ever-greater opportunities for the travelling public and visitors to our region."

Earlier this year, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said work to progress the air route development fund was ongoing. "I intend to be in a position to announce the way forward before the end of the financial year," the minister added.

Both Belfast International and Belfast City airports have benefited from previous funding streams from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

That included more than £1m paid to Belfast International Airport in support of the Belfast to New York route operated by Continental Airlines, now named United.

The expansion of easyJet's services comes just days before Ryanair begins its first fresh flights from Belfast International Airport. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary flew into Belfast last week to launch his airline's return, after six years away.

Graham Keddie, managing director of Belfast International Airport, said the routes would "provide direct access to Northern Ireland, drive up tourism numbers, increase Northern Ireland's international appeal and lead to hundreds of jobs".

The routes include London Gatwick, Berlin and Krakow, alongside sun spots and holiday break destinations such as Malaga and Tenerife.

Belfast Telegraph

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