Belfast Telegraph

Aer Lingus chief lauds Northern Ireland base as a 'success story'

By Heather McGarrigle

Aer Lingus is enjoying double celebrations in Northern Ireland this month.

December 10 marked the airline's fourth anniversary of flying from Belfast and it has announced flying over 2.3m customers to London and Europe since the operation began.

Just over a million customers have flown on the Heathrow route and over 1.25m passengers have travelled to the continent.

As part of the anniversary festivities, the company ran a passenger competition to win two return tickets to anywhere on its network of destinations. Aer Lingus also retained the award for 'Best Airline to Europe from Belfast,' at the Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards in October.

Declan Kearney, Aer Lingus director of communications, said the company is committed to Northern Ireland.

He said: "Even though all businesses are battling through an unprecedented period of global economic instability and uncertainty, our Belfast base is a continuing success story."

Mr Kearney said the company was continuing to invest in Northern Ireland and that its three-times-daily flights had captured 40% of the Heathrow market.

He said: "We've created over 100 jobs, invested millions, offer nine routes and have carried over 2.3m passengers."

The company managed to avoid travel chaos earlier this year after a planned strike by pilots in June was called off. Later in the month, it announced new European routes flying out of Belfast, Cork and Dublin.

Aer Lingus reported an operating loss of €27.8m (£23.7m) over the first six months of the year, which was blamed on the industrial dispute. However it posted profit of €25.9m (£22.1m) for the second quarter.